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Healthcare Economics & Policy


In its fourth annual update on medical overuse, JAMA Internal Medicine names 10 procedures and practices that are ripe for the curtailing. In the category of “overtesting,” the klieg lights fall on four exams—and all are based in imaging.

Anthem’s recent decision to no longer pay for outpatient CT and MR exams performed in hospitals didn’t come from nowhere—and, going forward, the move is not likely to be an outlier among private payers’ business stratagems.

In Harris County, Texas, three outpatient family-medicine affiliates of Baylor College of Medicine have slashed their unnecessary orders of lumbar-spine MRIs—and improved the appropriateness ratings of those they did order—by attending educational sessions and using the American College of Radiology’s R-SCAN program.

Offering first-year medical students an elective introduction to interventional radiology (IR), researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and its Perelman School of Medicine have found considerable receptivity to the learning opportunity and heightened interest in the specialty.

It’s no secret that radiology ranks among the medical specialties with the highest mean markups on list prices. However, a new review of Medicare data on prices listed and payments made shows that, far from being arbitrarily set—as is often assumed if not alleged—many of radiology’s highest prices reflect real-world, case-by-case factors involving heightened risk, greater clinical complexity and increased need for subspecialized expertise.


Recent Headlines

AHRA 2017 preview: Compete now or pay later

In the business world, it’s a given that competition is good for consumers. Battles over market share tend to drive quality up, push prices down and spawn new products and services. When it comes to healthcare, however, some see competition as a dirty word. Shouldn’t caring for patients be closer to a public service than a commercial enterprise? On some levels, absolutely—but not on every level, suggests David Partridge.

Texting MRI appointment reminders cuts no-shows, captures revenues

Texting on top of phoning outpatient MRI patients to remind them of their scan appointments gets them to show up, all right, although it doesn’t help spur them to arrive on time.

Common back-pain therapy may work—but it doesn’t save on imaging or other costs

Judging by thousands of insurance claims, spinal manipulation does little to tamp down the overall costs of treating low-back pain. Further, the popular therapy is often preceded by costly and unnecessary imaging exams.

Medicare has slashed imaging reimbursements by a third since 2006

It’s not news that Medicare has saved itself a ton of money on spending for medical imaging since the enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. But now there are numbers to quantify the hurting the cuts have laid on radiologists and cardiologists—who’ve taken it on the chin even more.

MITA commends congressmen Costello, Peters for bipartisan legislation

Congressmen Ryan Costello, R-Pennsylvania, and Scott Peters, D-California, were commended by the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) for introducing bipartisan legislation to ensure consistency in regulation for the proper servicing of medical devices.

Siemens Healthineers to acquire Medicalis to boost population health management portfolio

Siemens Healthineers announced today its intention to acquire Medicalis, a provider of workflow technology and clinical decision support to radiology groups, imaging centers and hospitals in the United States and Canada. Terms of the transaction were not immediately disclosed.

5 tips for radiology managers pursuing MACRA success

CMS’s Quality Payment Program (QPP), which went live with the 2015 enactment of MACRA, represents the biggest single development in U.S. healthcare since President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law in 1965.

Cost savings associated with radiation treatment after lumpectomy for early-stage breast cancer

Using the National Cancer Database (NCDB), researchers set out to find the potential cost savings associated with an evidence-based radiation treatment (RT) approach among women in the United States with early-stage breast cancer.

First diagnostic radiotracer supporting early diagnosis of Alzheimer's approved in Canada

Piramal Imaging SA and Isologic Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals have announced that a Notice of Compliance (NOC) from Health Canada has been issued to Isologic for NeuraCeq (florbetaben F18 injection).     

FDA approves Varibar Pudding from Bracco Diagnostics for MBS examinations

The FDA approved Varibar Pudding from Bracco Diagnostics for modified barium swallow (MBS) examinations to evaluate the oral and pharyngeal function and morphology in patients six months and older.