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  • April 2005

    Cost Benefits of Medical Imaging and Inpatient Care

    Radiology | G. Scott Gazelle, MD, MPH, PhD

    Article:

    Diagnostic Imaging Costs: Are They Driving Up the Costs of Hospital Care?

    Authors:

    Molly T. Beinfeld, MPH; G. Scott Gazelle, MD, MPH, PhD

    Journal:

    Radiology, June 2005

    Summary:
    In 2005, researchers from Harvard Medical School set out to tackle a prominent question in today’s health care community: Are diagnostic imaging costs actually driving up the costs of hospital care? Utilizing data from more than 17,000 patients admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital between 1996 and 2002, researchers calculated costs of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR), and total imaging relative to total hospital costs. Statistical analyses were then performed with Student t test and multiple linear regression analysis.

    The study showed that every additional $385 spent on medical imaging correlated to an average reduction of one (1) day in total length of hospital stay. With an average cost of $1172 per day of standard hospital care, every dollar spent on medical imaging in turn saves approximately $3 in total costs. Furthermore, the data analysis revealed that while hospital spending increased on all measured fronts over the six year span, medical imaging costs at a rate congruent to the rise in overall hospital costs. Hospital costs in 2002 were 155% those of 1996, while inpatient imaging costs were 151% those of 1996; total costs increased an average of 7.8% per year, and imaging costs increased 8.3% per year.

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