Reducing expenses and unnecessary medical imaging are some of the most touted benefits of vendor neutral archiving technology. Healthcare providers, physicians and patients are all affected by the high costs of imaging, especially when duplicate images are performed due to a lack of communication between providers and doctors. peer60, a healthcare research company, delved into this topic and discovered that as much as $12 billion is wasted every year on medical imaging.

'Unnecessary Imaging' report
peer60 found that annual unnecessary imaging costs in the U.S. range between $7,470,000,000 and $11,950,000,000 based off surveys of healthcare providers. The company garnered that the healthcare industry is spending $7.47 billion annually as a low estimate. A high guess is near $11.95 billion - these bracket estimates were culminated with the information providers shared with peer60. The numbers are guides to find a range in which the more realistic number lies.

In 2012, U.S. News & World Report stated that the increasing use of CTs, MRIs and other diagnostic scans created a $100 billion a year industry. This statistic was discovered by Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman and her team in a study entitled, "Use of Diagnostic Imaging Studies and Associated Radiation Exposure for Patients Enrolled in Large Integrated Health Care Systems, 1996-2010," which was published in the June 13, 2012, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Smith Bindman mentioned, "We need to invest some research dollars to figure out how best to spend these dollars and when to image more and when to image less." She later added that using CT scans is often unnecessary because the usage guidelines are not yet clear. The study involved millions of patients who were covered by six large HMO healthcare systems between 1996 and 2010.

So which is it, $7 billion, $12 billion or $100 billion? Regardless, we can safely determine that a lot of money is being wasted due to the use of unnecessary imaging, like taking X​-rays that needn't be done, or recreating films that already exist but haven't been shared with a new physician. VNAs can help solve this issue.

According to peer60, common reasons for excess imaging include:

  • Doctors are cautious about potentially misdiagnosing patients and opt to do more scans than necessary to be sure they are correct in their diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • Today's Internet culture promotes patients to self-diagnose via the Web. Because of this, people may ask for particular imaging methods because they've heard of them and a physician might oblige to calm their fears.
  • With the frequent advances in medical imaging, it's hard for healthcare providers to stay on top of every new device and type of scan. Doctors my use the wrong kind of imaging during an appointment and end up doing multiple scans with various devices to be sure they are getting the whole picture.

How can VNAs help you?
Lack of communication between healthcare providers and physicians is often the culprit where unnecessary imaging is concerned. A specialist, for example, may need particular medical images from the general physician that sent  patient to them, but because the original doctor doesn't use VNA, he or she may be forced to take another image due to lack of access to the first set. This is costly to the medical provider in that it takes extra time and money to produce new images. Plus, the patient will likely ask why it's necessary to take new Xrays or other images, and may even choose to take their business elsewhere to save money.

VNA technology provides an easy way to send, receive and archive imaging and information. With just a few clicks, a family practice physician could send a specialist the data he or she needs to treat the patient without repeated testing and images. The information inputted and saved in VNAs is easily available through an online portal, and can be accessed by all necessary healthcare parties when useful. Your facility will cut down on time per appointment, and still provide services in a HIPAA-compliant, secure manner.

News brought to you by FUJIFILM TeraMedica, Inc., leaders in healthcare enterprise imaging (VNA) solutions.