The week in numbers

Although I’m an avowed word person, I have to admit sometimes numbers, rather than words, best convey the story. This week definitely falls into that category.

Top on the list of telling numbers? $1.4 billion. That’s the annual spending on catastrophic claims in the U.S. Though it is a mighty big number, it represents a tiny fraction (less than one-tenth of 1 percent) of total health spending in this country, according to a study published April 29 in Journal for Healthcare Quality.

"The real problem is that far too many tests and procedures are being performed in the name of defensive medicine, as physicians fear they could be sued if they don't order them. That costs upwards of $60 billion a year. It is not the payouts that are bankrupting the system -- it's the fear of them," Marty Makary, MD, MPH, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, lead author of the study, said in a press release.

More than 100 physicians protested the $100,000 annual price tag on several newly FDA-approved chemotherapies to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia in an article published online April 25 in Blood.

The utter unsustainability of cancer treatment costs is in the crosshairs. Experts proposed new care models to contain costs in a viewpoint published online April 29 in JAMA Internal Medicine. For more on the subject, please check out the May/June Health Imaging cover story, “The New Economics of Radiation Oncology.”

And finally, the surprise finding of this week revealed that a collaborative imaging preauthorization model, rather than the hard denial imposed by some radiology benefits managers, resulted in a lower imaging utilization growth rate.

What numbers have impacted your practice this week? Please email and let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor