One contributor to the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. may be the lack of cost awareness among physicians, said Dr. Mindy Yang Licurse.
"Specifically for radiology, lack of cost awareness by referring providers and radiologists themselves may play a part in driving the overutilization of inappropriate and expensive radiology exams," Licurse told AuntMinnie.com.
As a result, the researchers sought to implement a real-time tool that enables interpreting radiologists to automatically see fees and reimbursements for each exam that is being protocoled or read, she said.
"The initial goal for this tool is to increase cost awareness among radiologists, with subsequent studies aimed to measure the effect on cost savings and clinical utility," she said. "Especially given the implementation of meaningful use and a focus within radiology to become more central to value-based patient care, cost awareness becomes an important factor for the improvement of multidisciplinary clinical decision-making."
Radiologist cost awareness of imaging studies increased considerably after PriceTag was launched at the university, Licurse said. The software was incorporated into the department's radiology portal.
"As an initial implementation of this tool, we were impressed by the positive feedback and utility reported by many radiologists, with a higher utilization rate by residents and fellows-in-training who rely on the portal for call purposes frequently," she said. "In the future, the hope would be to measure further effects of the tool on cost savings specifically and clinical decision-making."