Tech firm says it slashed imaging spending by millions last year through price shopping

A Lyndhurst, New Jersey, technology firm says it slashed imaging spending by millions in 2019 by helping consumers shop for procedures.

That included about $4.4 million in savings to employers and other health plan sponsors on MR imaging, and $1.7 million on CT scans, Sapphire Digital announced Wednesday. The firm offers an electronic “Smart Shopper” service allowing consumers to compare prices for nonurgent radiology services and elective surgery. And it is intensifying its marketing as consumers begin scheduling care long-deferred during the pandemic.

“Americans already shop online in just about every other aspect of their lives,” CEO Kyle Raffaniello said in a statement. “Now more than ever, consumers need digital tools, supported by personalized concierge services, to help them find the right care, at the right price, at the right location,” she added later.

All told, Sapphire said it saved sponsors $33.5 million in 2019 alone and $100 million over the past six years by steering users away from pricier out-of-network care. Colonoscopies were the costliest line item at $5.5 million in savings, followed by MRI. Magnetic resonance imaging was also the most shopped-for procedure at 24%, followed by mammography (16%), colonoscopy (13%), CT scans (11%) and ultrasound (6%).

The company also offers consumers cash to shop around for nonemergent care and paid out roughly $5 million last year in such incentives. In a survey of about 1,000 adults released last month, Sapphire Digital found that 47% of patients plan on being more selective in shopping for care post-pandemic.