A new report from the Reston, Va.-based medical imaging socioeconomic research organization, the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, found that in hospitals across the United States, the average length-of-stay has increased at the same time as use of medical imaging scans has declined. The report’s authors do not outright say the two are connected, but suggest more research be done to “potential negative impact of government and private insurer imaging reductions on overall medical costs and patient safety.”
"Lawmakers, regulators and medical professionals are making medical imaging policy decisions without fully understanding or examining their downstream effects — which may include an increase in hospital stays, associated costs and other adverse events. We need to examine imaging, as it relates to a patient's overall continuum of care, to ensure that decision makers don't create imaging cost reduction policies which paradoxically raise overall costs, create barriers to care, and ultimately harm patients," Richard Duszak, M.D., CEO and senior research fellow of the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, said in a statement.
According to the Neiman Institute, data from the suggested efforts can serve as the basis for true, evidence-based medical imaging policy. Thus far, the institute says, not much has been done to connect the impact medical imaging has on reducing of invasive surgeries, unnecessary hospital admissions and length of hospital stays.
"We need to take a hard look at the cost, access and quality and safety issues related to present government and private insurer medical imaging policies and find ways to maximize the value, role and efficiency of radiology as health care systems evolve. The Neiman Institute will provide much needed information to ensure that future imaging policies benefit patients and make efficient, effective use of health care resources," said Duszak.