Transparency's Effect On Doctors Ordering Imaging Procedures

Recent articles point to physicians saying that they’ve been ordering imaging procedures at an increasingly alarming rate. These doctors, according to reports, are ordering expensive scans without taking into consideration the financial burden that is then placed on their patients.  It is for this reason that patients must be able to access better information about their care and information about the price of those necessary procedures.

            The Journal of the American College of Radiology recently decided to research this trend because patients need to be able to know going into an imaging procedure what it is going to cost them, whether they’re insured or not. Daniel J. Brotman, M.D. researched this occurrence at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Brotman studied a group of doctors for six months, during which time the doctors were not given the price of each imaging procedure they ordered. Then for six more months they got access to the pricing of ordered procedures before they prescribed them to their patients. It appeared that the number of procedures ordered did not differentiate a substantial amount from one test period to the next.

            These results do not lean in favor of the patient. For a long time doctors have been ordering procedures and not taking into consideration the financial burden on the patient. However, many would argue that it is not the doctor’s responsibility to be concerned over price, but rather to be focused on the wellness of their patient. Brotman says; “Cost transparency must be part of the solution to solving fiscal challenges in medicine,” this starts with our doctors. Price transparency is something that people can rely on in order to alleviate some of the stress of an imaging procedure, so that they do not need to go without necessary services.

            Independent radiology centers have an advantage over hospitals because of the relationships that can be formed between doctor and patient. Doctors and hospitals are dealing with a large amount of patients everyday which hinders their ability to form a greater relationship with patients. Since there is a minimal relationship doctors are not in a position to be concerned with a patient’s financial background. With this they simply look at what the patient needs to have done in order to get well regardless of the price. Doctors at independent centers have the ability to form a more in depth relationship because they do not have to handle near the amount of patients. With this comes better care, which is a key element in the process of having a procedure done. There are many advantages when seeing an independent radiology center, care and price are just a couple.

            Save On Medical is a website that can help provide the patient with price transparency, providing them with centers where they can go to find affordable care. Patients are able to compare facility costs between different independent centers in their area. Patients can also see the quality of the doctor at each location on Save On Medical. Save On Medical gives patients in need of imaging procedures the ability to compare prices well as compare quality of doctors. This information helps ease the hassle of finding health care, while also, taking some of the pressure off of the shoulders of physicians who are being scolded for over-prescribing scans.