Radiologists’ public reporting of efficiency measures has produced ‘notable’ drops in unnecessary CT imaging

Requiring radiologists to publicly report their rates of efficiency in outpatient care has led to “notable” drops in unnecessary CT imaging.

That’s according to the results of a new analysis of years’ worth of Medicare data, published May 20 in the American Journal of Roentgenology. It was back in 2011 that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began requiring radiology providers to report such quality measures tied to imaging efficiency, with the goal of dropping radiation exposure and reducing expenditures.

The move appears to be working, with an overall drop in duplicate CT of specific anatomic regions that include the thorax, abdomen, and head, wrote Melissa Davis, MD, MBA, and colleagues with Yale University School of Medicine.

“These improvements occurred across hospital geographic locations, with prominent reductions among rural hospitals,” the research team noted. “However, there are still improvements that can be made,” they added.

To reach their conclusions, Davis and company conducted an observational analysis of standard Medicare fee-for-service claims data from 2011-2018. They calculated hospital scores for three CMS quality measures, created to target imaging in the three aforementioned body parts.

All told, the national mean rate of duplicate imaging dropped for each of the three measures. Rural imaging providers—a sore spot prior to the measures’ implementation—saw marked improvements during the study period, the analysis noted.

“These successes support recent CMS policy initiatives to retire duplicative imaging measures from public reporting,” concluded Davis, who now serves as VP of clinical operations at the tech firm Nines. “Future work should seek to identify opportunities to use national public reporting initiatives to yield similar improvements across broader indications and settings,” she and colleagues added.

Read the rest of the analysis in AJR here.