Cardiac imaging and data management are playing a larger role in cost savings for hospitals and the healthcare system, despite trends that point to less money for some of these enterprises.
One recent study in the journal Academic Radiology showed that evaluating patients who present at the emergency department with chest pain and who are at low to intermediate risk of acute coronary syndrome using cardiac CT lowered both initial and downstream costs. The researchers calculated that the cost of getting a correct diagnosis was $750 less using cardiac CT compared with nuclear stress testing.
Another study found that costs for treating patients with peripheral artery disease were lower when the operator was an interventional radiologist rather than a vascular surgeon or an interventional cardiologist. Patients treated by interventional radiologists had shorter hospital stays and better outcomes, too.
These findings may catch the eye of policy makers, who also might note that Medicare spending and utilization of imaging services is on the decline. At the same time, the growth rate for interventional procedures done in angiography labs has skidded to 1 percent annually, although the authors of the report noted that volume remained relatively stable.
More the reason to weed out potentially costly errors in IT and data management practices and systems. For instance, mobile devices can be a convenient tool for computerized order entry, but if the ordering physician is distracted by a text message or is interrupted in some way, he or she may make a clinical or security mistake.
Please let me know how your imaging and data management programs are helping to keep costs down by emailing me at cstuart@CardiovascularBusiness.com.
Candace Stuart, Editor