Survey: Most primary care docs find medical imaging valuable

The use of medical imaging is beneficial to patient care, a majority of primary care physicians say.

A national survey of more than 500 PCPs, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, praised the use of imaging.

Using imaging tools can increase diagnostic confidence, according to 88 percent of those surveyed, and 90 percent said they provide data that they would otherwise not have. In addition, 88 percent said medical imaging improves clinical decision making, and another 88 percent said it increases their confidence in choosing the right treatments.

The PCPs also said that "patient care would be negatively affected without access to advanced imaging," according to the survey.

"There really haven't been any clear value metrics developed which could be used in policy decisions on reimbursement for imaging," lead author Christine Hughes, of the Hadley Hart Group in Chicago, told "In our field, it's a given that imaging has value, but we've come up short trying to articulate that to payers and policymakers. We hope our data can be used to educate payers and PCPs about the value of imaging."

However, despite the survey results, PCPs actually don't use medical imaging as much as others in the industry.

Nonphysicians--such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants--are much more likely to order imaging exams for patients than primary care physicians, according to a study published in November in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In addition, a recent survey of hospital executives determined that the U.S. healthcare system spends at least $7.47 billion, and as much as $11.95 billion on unnecessary imaging every year.

To learn more:
- check out the study abstract
- read the article


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