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A computer's advice to cut medical costs



Do you really need an MRI for that aching back or sore shoulder? How about a CT scan?

For the last three years, thousands of doctors have been using a computer program to help answer those questions. They plug in information about an individual patient, and a computer using national guidelines tells them if a CT or MRI is a good choice — or if there's something better.

That simple step has helped save an estimated $28 million a year by eliminating thousands of unnecessary tests, according to the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, a health research group in Bloomington, Minn.


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