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Being sick in the United States comes with an expense, and for certain healthcare consumers, it can be really costly.
For a person who does not have health insurance and is required to cover medical imaging bills alone, an MRI can run anywhere from $400 to $7,000 depending on the location and the case. CT Scans from $270 to $5,000. X-rays from $100 to $1,000.
As a nation, we’re already well over four trillion dollars for the total cost of healthcare per year. That’s $4,000,000,000,000 or better than 20% of the country’s gross domestic product. Something has to give.
At Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC), a team of professionals from Medical Imaging and the Emergency/Trauma Center has been collaborating for just over a year on a new initiative. It’s concentrating on patient safety, access to care and reducing costs by determining what imaging tests for certain patients in the Emergency/Trauma Center may not be essential to their final diagnosis and/or treatment plan. Dr. David Nizza, the Medical Director of Medical Imaging and Dr. Clark Willis, the Immediate Past Medical Director of ED/Trauma, are the physician champions leading the charge.
“We are excited about the amount of CT radiation reduction and potential cost savings that we have been able to achieve for our community already with Medical Imaging and the Emergency Department working together toward a common goal of improved Emergency Department imaging care and more appropriate patient testing,” said Dr. Nizza.
So far, physicians and providers have safely decreased CT testing in evaluating patients for possible blood clots in the lungs, and recurrent kidney stone evaluations in select individuals. In addition to the primary cost benefit to both self-payers and insurance carriers, there’s also an obvious improvement in patient care with a reduction of patient exposure to potentially unnecessary radiation.
“That’s really our primary goal,” added Dr. Willis. “We’re always looking for ways to better the delivery of emergency care to our community by safely lowering CT testing in certain emergent clinical situations. This improved patient selection of testing reduces the amount of radiation exposure to our community as well as the cost of the care we provide.”
The team is also drawing on the expertise of the Healthvisions Collaborative between the Peninsula Regional Health System and Bayhealth of Delaware. The two hospital groups have been working together for a couple of years, sharing best practice opportunities and collaborating to save costs across both systems. A team at Bayhealth is also working a similar initiative and sharing their successes.
Drs. Nizza and Willis say the PRMC initiative has no end date, and the team is currently working on reducing Head CTs for certain neurologic evaluations.