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The Department of Radiology & Radiological Sciences

Society of Nuclear Medicine President, Dominique Delbeke, M.D., Ph.D.

SNM convenes annual meeting as challenges persist

When the 2010 SNM meeting convenes on June 5 in Salt Lake City, current SNM president Michael Graham, M.D., Ph.D. will hand over presidential duties to Dominique Delbeke, M.D., Ph.D., director of nuclear medicine and PET in the department of radiology and radiological sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. 

Delbeke has served in several different capacities since joining Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1986, where she has held the position of professor and director of nuclear medicine and PET since 2002.
 
She also has served on the board of directors of the SNM Cardiovascular Council and served a three-year term on the board of directors of the Education and Research Foundation. She is also a member of SNM's Education, Finance, Health Care Practice, Ethics, and Procedure and Practice Guidelines Committees.
 
Delbeke concurs with Graham that the "shortage of isotopes is certainly a major problem," as is falling imaging reimbursement and the consequences of the loss of dollars for the job market for nuclear medicine professionals.
 
Whether reimbursement cuts are restored will depend, in part, on nuclear medicine's ability to convince regulators of the specialty's value. Hence, Delbeke plans to promote collaborative multidisciplinary practice guidelines and comparative clinical and cost-effectiveness studies, two areas in which she has been involved over the past several years.
 
"Imaging tests can help with the cost of healthcare, if done appropriately. [They] can guide to more appropriate treatment and decrease the cost of treatment when the treatment doesn't work," she said. "Even if, as a whole, the cost of imaging has increased disproportionately compared to the cost of treatment, it may be because we haven't been very good at proving in the literature that imaging tests will help select the patient for appropriate treatment."

Comparative cost-effectiveness

"Those of us in the field of nuclear medicine recognize the huge strengths of some of our tests and how they do make a huge difference in patient management and decrease the cost of medicine," Graham added, "but we have not convinced the rest of the world adequately." 

SNM plans to hold a meeting in July of professionals from healthcare technology assessment, the insurance industry, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the FDA to discuss cost-effectiveness and comparative effectiveness in molecular imaging, and to help regulators understand what research needs to be done to identify and demonstrate that efficacy.
 
Delbeke also wants to continue to work with international organizations, medical societies, and other healthcare providers on developing guidelines and appropriate use criteria for imaging tests. "For professional organizations to develop guidelines regarding the use of these tests is extremely important," she said. "The society also will develop and revise our own guidelines and collaborate with other societies to develop these criteria." 
 
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
June 3, 2010

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