Partnership Between Community and Academic Healthcare Can Improve Standardization of Imaging Protocols for Multiple Sclerosis

Guidelines exist for standardized MRI for monitoring disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and enhance quality of care for patients as well as creating the opportunity to have standardized data for research. Outside of tertiary care centers, however, these protocols often are not used. Experts at the Johns Hopkins MS Precision Medicine Center of Excellence have collaborated with RadNet to address this concern. RadNet is the largest network of freestanding, fixed-site outpatient imaging centers in the US. 

With a goal of creating a protocol that allowed an exam time of 30 minutes and worked across common MRI machines, a collaboration addressed barriers to change and how to disseminate knowledge about the benefits of standardized imaging protocols. Through this collaboration, an optimized 3T imaging protocol that meets the established standard of care for MRI in patients with MS was created that takes 15:37 minutes to complete. The protocol was loaded onto all 3T MRI machines (n = 58) at RadNet sites in 5 states. 

By partnering with private community-based imaging centers, the participants in this project have found that it is possible to create partnerships that enhance clinical care for persons with MS. These protocols also create an opportunity for patients to participate in research by agreeing to share their images in research, increasing available data and the power of studies. The future goals of this project are to implement the standard protocols in all freestanding imaging centers in the US and potentially create a standard spinal cord imaging protocol. 

These data were presented at the American Conference on Treatment and Research in MMS (ACTRIMS) conference in Dallas, TX February 28-March 1. 

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