New Survey Shows Physicians Seeing More Patients but Performing Fewer Advanced Imaging Studies
Physicians are seeing more patients, but performing fewer advanced nuclear tests on those patients, according to results of a survey released by MedAxiom and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) on Sept. 6 at ASNC's annual conference in Baltimore.
According to the survey, cardiologists on average recorded more than 2,100 patient visits in 2011, up more than 29 percent since 2004. During that same period, however, they performed an average of 356 advanced nuclear imaging tests (i.e. stress echo, single-photon emission computerized tomography, or positron emission tomography tests), an increase of only two percent since 2004.
The survey cites a change in the approach to the delivery of cardiovascular care, as well as, continued concerns about economic conditions as reasons for the decline. Specifically, the increasing adoption of Appropriate Use Criteria; higher deductibles and co-pays for those with insurance; increased awareness of radiation optimization; use of provider-based billing by integrated cardiology practices; and an intermittent shortage of Molybdenum-99, were listed as primary reasons for the changes.
"Nuclear cardiology imaging plays, and will continue to play, an important role diagnosing and treating heart disease," said ASNC President John Mahmarian, MD, FACC. "Our doctors have been vigilant in prescribing the appropriate use of these tests as defined by our participation in the Choosing Wisely initiative. As health care evolves in the United States, we intend to continue clearly defining the patient-centered approach to cardiovascular imaging and optimizing the value received from it. Our goal is to continue to provide both quality and value to our patients."
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