Study: Radiologists losing control of imaging industry

Radiologists may be losing their dominance in the imaging industry, partly due to competition and partly due to the intervention of radiology benefit management companies, according to a group of studies in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The studies, which examined a 10-year span of Medicare data, concluded that the biggest growth in imaging billings actually came from those performed by non-radiologists and in private-office settings over that period. In fact, utilization of imaging in private-office settings grew by 63 percent between 1996 and 2006, one study concluded.

Throughout this shift, hospitals haven't gotten much of the pie. Hospital imaging-centers' market share decreased from 47 percent in 1996 to 41 percent in 2006. And while emergency departments saw a 77 percent growth in imaging procedures during that period, utilization was still much lower than in other settings.

Another article found that the use of evidence-based imaging guidelines under the direction of a radiology benefits-management program cut utilization. Under the program studied, 14 percent of all procedures reviewed weren't performed, and about 6 percent of all ordered procedures were reordered using what was considered a more appropriate exam.

To learn more about the studies:
- read this Modern Healthcare article (reg. req)

Related Article:
Radiology benefits managers cause patient risks, critics say