MIT professor wins grant to study ?non-necessary? medical imaging

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Frank Levy, PhD, from the department of urban studies and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been awarded a grant to study “the effects of different initiatives to restrict non-necessary medical-imaging procedures on the costs and quality of care.”

Levy, an urban economics professor, will examine evidence suggesting that a significant fraction of imaging (MRI, PET, CTs, etc.) is done for non-medical reasons—to satisfy demanding patients, to protect against malpractice or sometimes to generate income, according to MIT News. Medical imaging currently accounts for about one-sixth of Medicare fee-for-service payments for physician services.

Levy's project will approach the issue from two perspectives—a ‘top-down’ analysis of the growth of imaging expenditures in the United States; and six ‘bottom-up’ case studies of the origins, implementation and effects of different image-reduction initiatives undertaken by hospitals and insurers, MIT News reported.

The research, expected to take two years, aims to increase understanding of the ability to slow the growth of imaging expenditures and healthcare costs overall by rationing unnecessary procedures, according to MIT News.

The upcoming research will be funded by a $335,000 investigator award in health policy research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.