When More Is Better: Underused Advanced Imaging Exams That Can Improve Outcomes and Reduce Cost of Care


      Appropriate use of resources is a tenet of care transformation efforts, with a national campaign to reduce low-value imaging. The next level of performance improvement is to bolster evidence-based screening, imaging surveillance, and diagnostic innovation, which can avert more costly, higher-risk elements of unnecessary care like emergent interventions. Clinical scenarios in which underused advanced imaging can improve outcomes and reduce total cost of care are reviewed, including abdominal aortic aneurysm surveillance, coronary artery disease diagnosis, and renal mass characterization. Reliable abdominal aortic aneurysm surveillance imaging reduces emergency surgery and can be driven by radiologists incorporating best practice standardized recommendations in imaging interpretations. Coronary computed tomography angiography in patients with stable and unstable chest pain can reduce downstream resource use while improving outcomes. Preoperative 99mTc-sestamibi single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) reliably distinguishes oncocytoma from renal cell carcinoma to obviate unnecessary nephrectomy. As technological advances in diagnostic, molecular, and interventional radiology improve our ability to detect and cure disease, analyses of cost effectiveness will be critical to radiology leadership and sustainability in the transition to a value-based reimbursement model.


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