UnitedHealth Group supports ACR Appropriateness Criteria

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The UnitedHealth Group has announced its support for the American College of Radiology's (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria.

The ACR-developed Appropriateness Criteria determines appropriate imaging examinations for diagnosis and treatment of more than 190 specified medical condition(s) and are intended to serve as a guide for radiologists, radiation oncologists, and referring physicians regarding radiologic imaging and treatment.

The joint effort will result in expanded use of ACR's accreditation programs to help identify any facilities that have undergone rigorous review and are in compliance with nationally accepted scientific standards in a variety of diagnostic imaging categories, the ACR said. The evaluations - which include personnel, facilities, equipment, quality, and safety - will help facilitate healthcare decisions made by both referring physicians and patients for the services, the ACR said.  

"This ACR and UnitedHealth Group initiative will help ensure that patients receive safe, quality, necessary care and help curtail the skyrocketing cost associated with improper utilization of imaging procedures," said James Borgstede, MD, FACR, chairman of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

"Imaging services are critical to achieving optimum healthcare, and new innovations in diagnostic radiology can significantly improve healthcare outcomes," said Reed V. Tuckson, MD, senior vice President, Consumer Health and Medical Care Advancement. "It is imperative that we secure access and affordability for patients needing these services. By working with the American College of Radiology to incorporate the best science and expert opinion into the diagnostic imaging decisions of physicians, we are acting on a significant opportunity to improve not only quality, but also cost effectiveness and affordability, in this important area of clinical medicine."  

Diagnostic imaging is the fastest growing type of physician services expenditure in the United States, with an annual growth rate (9 percent) that is three times that of general physician services (3 percent). ACR data show that legislation or regulation discouraging inappropriate utilization could save billions of healthcare dollars over the next decade.

The American College of Radiology is requesting input from all medical specialties on the matter. For more information about ACR's Appropriateness Criteria, visit http://www.acr.org/s_acr/sec.asp?CID=1847&DID=16052.