Report: Decision-Support, Prior Authorization for Imaging Unlikely to Save Costs

Neither decision-support systems nor prior authorization for imaging may achieve cost savings, according to a report (pdf) by The Moran Company.

The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition requested The Moran Company create the report, "Assessing the Budgetary Implications of Alternative Strategies to Influence Utilization of Diagnostic Imaging Services," to evaluate strategies for controlling imaging utilization and their economic effects.  

The two main strategies are decision-support tools, designed to aid physicians and other providers in making decisions about patient care, and prior authorization, in which clinicians must receive explicit approval before performing imaging services. The report concluded that neither strategy is likely to produce significant savings. However, the report also noted that evidence suggests decision-support tools are effective when available and used, whereas evidence for the cost-effectiveness of prior authorization is very limited.

The authors suggested policymakers consider programs that explicitly affect program spending, such as those that reduce payments for providers who provide diagnostic imaging services inappropriately.

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