The study shows that growth of advanced diagnostic imaging for Medicare patients slowed to single-digit rates starting in 2006, a trend that has extended to private payors. But while it reconfirms results of previous studies that indicate Medicare imaging use has decreased significantly over the past several years, the list of factors cited for the decline is incomplete, and the drop in imaging use is not without negative consequences, according to the organization.
"Imaging utilization has tightened due to a number of factors, including greater use of evidence-based ACR Appropriateness Criteria, and electronic physician order-entry systems based on these guidelines, which ensure that patients get the right scan for the right indication," ACR said in a statement. "A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows similar utilization patterns in integrated healthcare systems, as well as fee-for-service settings -- meaning reimbursement has little to do with physician ordering decisions. However, the imaging cuts have, in fact, damaged patient care."