CDS Reduces Rate of Imaging Test Orders by 25% in Study

HealthLeaders Media Staff, January 10, 2011

Information technology may be solution to the overuse of imaging technology.

Clinical decision support systems may save money by reducing the number of inappropriate medical imaging procedures, including computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, researchers at Virginia Mason Medical Center find.

Targeted use of imaging clinical decision support is associated with large decreases in the number of orders for three common imaging exams, according to findings published this month in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The research comes from Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

The findings are particularly significant as cost-containment efforts increasingly target imaging. Providers are under pressure from payers to limit imaging to evidence-based applications, the authors note. Clinical decision support systems appear to provide a way to do just that. They can provide real-time feedback to providers ordering imaging tests, including information on test appropriateness for specific indications.

The retrospective cohort study looked at evidence-based clinical decision support built into ordering systems for selected high-volume imaging procedures: lumbar MRI, brain MRI, and sinus CT. Brain CT was included as a control.

Results showed the rates of imaging after intervention were 23.4% lower for lumbar MRI (for low-back pain), 23.2% lower for head MRI (for headache), and 26.8% lower for sinus CT (for sinusitis).

The data came a regional health plan's billing data as well as the institutional radiology information system, the authors explained.

Margaret Dick Tocknell Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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