SCCT: Positive cost data pile up
With public health officials calling for cost-effectiveness data about cardiac CT and the feds allocating $1.1 billion to comparative effectiveness research, researchers are sharpening their focus and honing in on the economics of cardiac CT. Early data are promising, indicating that cardiac CT can be both diagnostically effective and economically viable. In fact, in many cases it is more cost-effective than traditional diagnostic protocols.
For example, a pair of community hospitals in Arizona each saved $5 million annually after adding calcium artery calcium scoring to the emergency department protocol for low-risk chest pain patients.
Other studies also have amplified these results. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and Christiana Health Care System in Wilmington, Del., reported that cardiac CT costs were 20 percent lower than standard of care costs for diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome in the emergency department.
Equally compelling is research originating at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., showing that cardiac CT costs compare favorably with SPECT in low to intermediate risk patients, and CT does not add a downstream resource burden.
The upshot? Not only does cardiac CT provide the data needed for physicians to make informed clinical decisions it also offers a cost-effective option in many cases. Further research is required, but early indications are positive. Patients who require treatment can be treated more expeditiously, while those who do not can be released in a timelier manner thus reducing the burden on the healthcare system. The accurate diagnostic information provided by cardiac CT can reduce or eliminate the need for additional testing and more immediately direct patients to treatment. It is the way the system should work.
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Lisa Fratt, Editor