After Nearly A Decade Of Rapid Growth Use And Complexity Of Imaging Declined 200814
Author: David C. Levin, Laurence Parker, Charles D. Palit, Vijay M. Rao
Imaging is an important cost driver in health care, and its use grew rapidly in the early 2000s. Several studies toward the end of the decade suggested that a leveling off was beginning to occur. In this study we examined more recent data to determine whether the slowdown had continued. Our data sources were the nationwide Medicare Part B databases for the period 2001–14. We calculated utilization rates per 1,000 enrollees for all advanced imaging modalities. We also calculated professional component relative value unit (RVU) rates per 1,000 beneficiaries for all imaging modalities, as RVU values provide a measure of complexity of imaging services and may in some ways be a better reflection of the amount of work involved in imaging. We found that utilization rates and RVU rates grew substantially until 2008 and 2009, respectively, and then began to drop. The downward trend in both rates persisted through 2014. Federal policies appear to have achieved the desired effect of ending the rapid growth of imaging that had been seen in earlier years.