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Coalition aims to cut billions in waste from imaging tests

Bernie Monegain, Editor, Healthcare IT News

A new nationwide initiative is promoting e-ordering as a means to cut the billions of dollars in waste a year resulting from unnecessary or duplicative diagnostic image tests.

Between $3 billion and $10 billion annually is wasted on unnecessary imaging procedures, according to the new Imaging e-Ordering Coalition, which is made up of healthcare providers, technology companies and diagnostic imaging organizations.

The group aims to shape policy and work with other lawmakers and stakeholders to address two major issues associated with medical imaging - excessive radiation risks for patients and unnecessary costs related to the wrong tests being given by physicians. 

It plans to scope and implement the standards necessary to ensure widespread adoption of decision-support tools with electronic health record systems.

Members of the coalition aim to educate policymakers and healthcare providers about the patient-centered efficiencies of e-Ordering, as well as recommending to lawmakers that the efforts to build incentives for prescribing medications electronically be broadened to include diagnostic imaging e-Ordering solutions. 
"As the healthcare industry, federal government and various regulatory bodies evaluate strategies to contain the rising cost of healthcare, e-Ordering is increasingly recognized as a cost-effective and data-driven approach to assure clinical best practices are applied to all ordering decisions," said Bibb Allen, MD, of the American College of Radiology, and founding member of the Imaging e-Ordering Coalition. "Expanding on the e-prescribing model, e-Ordering will do for diagnostic imaging what e-prescribing has done for the drug prescription process - simplify the way physicians' decisions for patient care are verified as medically appropriate and safe without compromising the physician-patient relationship."
There are a variety of active legislative and regulatory proposals that attempt to address the utilization of imaging services for publicly subsidized programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The coalition is focused on:

  • Promote existing HIT legislative concepts to inform policymakers on the value of e-Ordering to enable the appropriate use of imaging.
  • Ask lawmakers to include e-Ordering in the development of healthcare system efficiency incentives.
  • Act as a resource for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on its Medicare Imaging Demonstration Project
  • Work with policy makers to have the Coalition's e-Ordering proposal for CMS scored to validate long-term value and savings for the healthcare industry.
  • Work with stakeholders to establish standards to accelerate e-Ordering as a meaningful and valuable application with EHRs.

 "The growing emphasis at all levels of the federal government to encourage adoption of HIT presents an opportunity for the coalition to elevate e-Ordering as a much more provider-friendly, patient-centered alternative to the radiology benefit managers (RBM) model," said Liz Quam, director, Center for Diagnostic Imaging Institute, and founding member of the Imaging e-Ordering Coalition.