Diagnostic CT imaging rates down for privately insured patients

While the overall use of CT has increased over the last 15 years or so, a study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology has found that since 2009 it has slowed among privately insured patients.

"Numerous studies have shown a significant increase in the use of CT, although that increase has slowed," study co-author Richard Semelka told AuntMinnie.com. "To really understand CT use patterns, we wanted to separate the data more distinctly, looking at different age groups and indications."

The researchers studied trends in the use of diagnostic CT overall and for studies of the abdomen/pelvis, head/neck, chest and spine using data from between 2000 and 20011 from the MarketScan Research Database of Thomson Healthcare. They found that 35.6 million diagnostic CT scans were performed in that time, with those four body regions accounting for more than 97 percent of the scans. Elderly patients (65 years of age and older) accounted for the biggest absolute increase in imaging.

Most age groups, the researchers found, saw a slight decrease in the number of scans being performed, with younger patients seeing the largest decreases and the elderly seeing little to no change in imaging rates.

This is just the latest study to confirm that the advanced imaging utilization is slowing down. One of the earliest studies to document this decline--authored by David Lee and Frank Levy and published in Health Affairs in 2012--found that while the growth in the use of advanced imaging for Medicare beneficiaries increased by about 6 percent annually in the decade leading up to 2007, it had slowed to between 1 and 3 percent annually by 2009 for both Medicare beneficiaries and the non-Medicare insured.

To learn more:
- see the study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology
- read the article in AuntMinnie.com
- see the study in Health Affairs

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