By Brian Casey, staff writer

December 28, 2016 -- Radiology dodged a couple of bullets in 2016, as indicated by our list of top 10 stories as measured by member traffic. A plan by the U.S. government to allow nurses to read x-rays for military veterans was shelved this year, as was a requirement that board-certified radiologists renew their certification with a rigorous in-person exam.

Our top story was a proposal by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow nurses with advanced training to take on some duties reserved for physicians, such as ordering and interpreting x-rays. The VA later scaled back the plan to allow only exam ordering, but our initial article on the proposal generated a firestorm of opposition among radiologists.

Another controversial program was maintenance of certification (MOC), the idea that doctors who had already been through the ringer of board certification should demonstrate their competence again after 10 years by taking another exam. Most physicians hated the plan, so many radiologists breathed a sigh of relief when the American Board of Radiology (ABR) announced that it would eliminate the requirement for the 10-year in-person exam in favor of other tools that would enable radiologists to show their commitment to lifelong learning.

Radiology didn't win every time in 2016, however. A proposal to cut Medicare and Medicaid payments for analog x-ray studies slipped through in an omnibus budget bill in late 2015, so providers now must either convert to digital radiography or prepare for a 20% payment cut in 2017. What's more, payments for computed radiography will be reduced by 7% starting in 2018.

As always, corporate news was also a prominent presence in the headlines for 2016. The news that German industrial giant Siemens would be spinning its Siemens Healthineers business off as a separate company landed at No. 2 in our top 10 list, while Toshiba selecting Canon as its preferred suitor for its Toshiba Medical Systems business grabbed the No. 5 position. Another important story was the launch of a new PET radiopharmaceutical, while an alliance between IBM Watson and Siemens in the realm of artificial intelligence rounded out our top 10.

Top 10 stories for 2016

  1. VA proposal would let nurses take on imaging duties, June 3, 2016
  2. Siemens plans to spin off healthcare as separate business, November 10, 2016
  3. ABR to eliminate 10-year MOC recertification exam, May 20, 2016
  4. Md. imaging exec faces life in prison in fraud that led to 2 patient deaths, February 25, 2016
  5. Toshiba taps Canon as exclusive suitor for medical division, March 9, 2016
  6. FDA approves Blue Earth PET agent for prostate cancer, May 27, 2016
  7. Medicare to cut analog x-ray payments starting in 2017, February 8, 2016
  8. Top 5 trends from RSNA 2016 in Chicago, December 15, 2016
  9. The 3 biggest threats to radiology, October 3, 2016
  10. IBM Watson unites with Siemens in population health play, October 11, 2016

Copyright © 2016

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