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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

7 ways radiology can avoid undue industry influence

Radiologists are among the specialists least susceptible to lures from industry players angling for an ethically iffy “in” to push more goods and services—a happy fact in this age of Open Payments. But that doesn’t mean rads are immune. With this in mind, three radiologists at the University of Washington in Seattle propose a methodical approach to evaluating new products and managing relationships with vendors.

Mayo radiology shows how to boost efficiency, cut costs the ‘TDABC’ way

An exemplary radiology department has demonstrated how to apply the innovative business-management technique called “time-driven activity-based costing,” or TDABC, to fix some common and costly workflow inefficiencies in radiology. 

Payola is one problem radiology doesn’t have to reckon with

A new study confirms the lack of an association between increased imaging utilization and monies, gifts or perks given to rads for purposes other than supporting research.

Structured reporting cuts coding errors, facilitates full reimbursement

Incomplete radiology reports that lead to inappropriate coding and, thus, hits to reimbursement can be headed off by structured reporting, according to a study conducted at NYU Langone School of Medicine and published online Dec. 24 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. 

Radiologists encouraged to go ‘fishing’

“He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm.” So wrote Ernest Hemingway in The Old Man and the Sea. And what does this have to do with medical imaging? 

Chest imaging down despite increasing utilization of CT, CTA

Orders for Medicare-covered chest x-rays have dropped at a faster clip than those for chest CT and CT angiography (CTA) have risen in recent years, leading to a net decrease in overall noncardiac thoracic imaging. Meanwhile, radiologists’ role as the main providers of such imaging continues to help keep self-referral at bay. 

RSNA 2016: How women can climb the jungle gym to success

In an effort to empower female radiologists to take a commanding role in the field, RSNA presented a session entitled, “Women in Leadership,” at this year’s conference. 

RSNA 2016: The numbers paint a picture of good things to come, now just days away

If a picture paints a thousand words, perhaps a number paints a thousand pictures. Before you begin pondering the profundity of that possibility, consider some numbers that will fill out the picture you have in your mind of RSNA 2016 as you get ready to go. 

Radiologists to give reality check on changing payment models

Confused by recent payment model reform? At RSNA 2016, three practicing radiologists are scheduled to deliver a presentation all about the evolving financial landscape of medical imaging.

More neuroscientists soon to get aboard the BRAIN train

The BRAIN initiative launched by the Obama administration in 2013—all caps because it’s an acronym for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies—just received an infusion of $70 million in fresh funding for new projects, the NIH announced Oct. 13.

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