Study: Cardiac MRI scans could cut costs by $600 per patient

Hospitals could save nearly $600 per patient if they took a different approach to patients with chest pain in the ER, according to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Instead of sending patients directly to inpatient rooms and giving aggressive care, your hospital could first check to see whether they really need that care by doing cardiac MRI scans, which would help doctors determine how sick the patient is early on. While a lot of people show up with chest pain, only a small portion have disease, lead investigator Dr. Chadwick D. Miller, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, told DOTmed News.

In the study, half of the high risk patients with chest pains but no other evidence of serious heart problems were randomly assigned to observation units where they were tested for biomarkers of heart problems and underwent a stress MRI test. The other half were sent to inpatient wards where they received typical care, such as cardiac marker tests, echocardiography stress tests and cardiac catheterizations, Miller told DOTmed.

The researchers found that the cardiac MRI group were associated with a cost savings of $588 per patient. And 79 percent were managed without being admitted to the hospital. What's more, length of stay for patients in the MRI group was slightly shorter at about 26 hours vs. the nearly 30 hours for the inpatient group.

The study does not factor in the up-front cost of investing in and installing the MRI machines.

To learn more:
- read the Annals of Emergency Medicine article
- check out the DOTMed News piece

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