Do Post-Graduate Physician Trainees Understand Imaging Costs?

Healthcare costs have always been a concern amongst patients in the American healthcare system. Americans who need imaging by a radiologist are not immune to these cost burdens either. Most Americans hope that the person ordering the images is aware of the cost, perhaps ensuring that each test is absolutely necessary for their care. This led a group of researchers to conduct a study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The Study

The study surveyed 1,238 post-graduate physician trainees in a large academic medical center. The respondents were asked to make an estimate of the Medicare total costs allowable fees for the five most common imaging tests ordered. Respondents that estimated amounts within +/– 25% of published costs were considered correct.

Research Findings

Unfortunately, of all of the respondents only 5.7% were in the correct range. A whopping 76.4% of respondents incorrectly estimated imaging costs for all five of the common tests. There was also no significant difference in results amongst students who concentrated in radiology or took radiology electives during medical school.

What Does this Mean?

The findings from this study point to a problem amongst post-graduate physician trainees. Patients should be concerned that such a significant number of respondents are unable to identify the total allowable fees for the most common imaging tests they are ordering each day. The researchers of this study suggest that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the costs of common tests while students are still in medical school.

What do you think?  Do you think any of the post-graduate physician trainees at your radiology practice or hospital are unaware of the costs of common imaging tests? Your post-graduate physician trainees of all disciplines can benefit from further education on healthcare costs and Medicare coverage. If you would like to discuss, contact HIS today.