Curbing the Use of Medical Imaging: Searching for Efficient Technology Utilization in a Fee-for-Service World

Award Year:
Frank Levy
Evidence-Based Medicine, Technology
High-tech diagnostic imaging equipment is now available in hospitals, imaging centers, large multi-specialty group practices, and more types of doctors' offices than ever before. While this has made things easier for physicians and patients, it has also produced rapid growth in medical expenditures for scans and contributed to the overall rise in U.S. health care spending. Although medical professionals generally agree that imaging's rapid growth includes significant waste due to overuse, scientific evidence is lacking on which imaging is unnecessary. Frank Levy, Ph.D. seeks to better understand the drivers of the rapid growth in spending for imaging and the ways that waste might be identified. His project, Curbing the Use of Medical Imaging - Searching for Efficient Technology Utilization in a Fee-for-Service World, analyzes spending growth and examines initiatives by health care organizations to define and limit unnecessary imaging and to influence physician behavior. Levy notes that this "soft rationing" - limiting medical expenditures and unnecessary procedures through strategies such as prior authorization requirements and physician profiling - may also become important in other areas of health care. His research findings should help inform efforts to contain the growth and costs of imaging as well as other medical procedures.