Study: Imaging has Slowed Down Since 2005 | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Study: Imaging Demand has Slowed Down Since 2005

July 25, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
| Reprints

According to a new study in Health Affairs, there has been a decline in the demand for imaging studies, which has led to a decrease in the demand for new radiologists. The study, which was conducted by a pair of health economics researchers, also found that growth in the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) for patients in the United States slowed to between one-to-three percent per year between 2006 and 2009. This came after a decade of growth that exceeded six percent annually.

The authors, in the study, say several policies were the cause of this slowdown. “We hypothesize that higher cost sharing, prior authorization, reduced reimbursements, and fear of radiation are, for different parts of the population, countering some of the nonmedical incentives to order an imaging study,” the authors wrote. “What has occurred in the imaging field suggests incentive-based cost control measures can be a useful complement to comparative effectiveness research when a procedure’s ultimate clinical benefit is uncertain.”

The authors also say if their hypothesis is correct, the imaging field is “evidence that reducing nonmedical incentives to perform a procedure is a useful cost-control strategy, where a procedure’s ex ante clinical benefit is uncertain and clinical guidelines are hard to write.”

The authors looked at claims data for both the Medicare and non-Medicare patients from 2000 to 2009. For the Medicare population, use of CT grew at an annual rate of 14.3 percent from 2000 to 2005. Since 2005, however, it began declining each year, to the lowest increase of 1.4 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, MRI use in Medicare slowed from 14 percent annual growth between 2000 and 2005 to an average of 2.6 percent during 2006-09. The growth rate slowed similarly for non-Medicare patients, with the authors using data from 47 employer-sponsored plans.

There was an outlier finding. The authors found data from the single northeastern state showed that use of MRI increased at an annual rate of 5.6 percent during 2005–09. For the most part, however, it was a decline.



NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.