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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

Royal Philips acquires PathXL, hopes to boost digital pathology industry

Dutch healthcare technology company Royal Philips bought the Northern Irish pathology image analysis firm PathXL, Royal Philips announced June 21.

Teaching hospital documents the pros and cons of going to overnight attending rad coverage

In 2013 Boston Medical Center, a 496-bed teaching hospital affiliated with Boston University, bit the bullet and rolled out 24/7 in-house attending radiology with an eye on improving patient care. The bitten bullet ended up carrying an annual price tag of $850,000. Have the returns been worth the investment?

Millennial rad residents learn healthcare economics better with apps

Recent survey data revealed that most radiology residents cannot estimate imaging costs within 50 percent of accepted Medicare fees. Armed with this eyebrow-raising insight, researchers from Harvard and Brown Universities have studied the use of iPad apps for teaching tech-savvy millennials the basics of healthcare economics. Their conclusion: The approach works. 

Decision support probably isn’t to blame for much ‘imaging leakage’

It’s understandable that hospital systems might balk before setting up ordering providers with order-entry clinical decision support (CDS) tools that, in theory, stand to drive imaging referrals outside the system. After all, referrers have been known to get around CDS recommendations they don’t like by simply sending patients elsewhere. 

Brain science acts to manage a scientist surplus while averting a brain drain

It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem: There are more PhD students training for careers in neuroscience research than academic institutions can possibly employ. 

NBA partners with GE Healthcare on $1.5 million in injury research funding

With the NBA Playoffs in full swing, the league is also working to fund research focused on protecting players from injury.

PCORI earmarks more than $40 million for patient-centered research projects

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has announced $44.4 million in funding for 21 new clinical effectiveness research studies centered around patient care, according to a press release.

FDA gives clearance for FUJIFILM VisualSonics ultra-high frequency ultrasound system

FUJIFILM VisualSonics Inc., a subsidiary of FUJIFILM SonoSite, has announced that its Vevo MD ultra-high frequency clinical ultrasound system has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA.

Philips' low-dose CT suite cleared by FDA for lung cancer screening

Philips announced today that its suite of CT solutions has received 501(k) clearance from the FDA for low-dose lung cancer screening.

Global breast imaging equipment market to top $4.6 billion by 2020

A new research analysis predicts that the market for breast imaging equipment will grow at an estimated CAGR of 12.2 percent and will eclipse $4.6 billion by the year 2020.