Publications & Research

Clinical decision tool improves appropriate heart imaging

A tool based on American College of Cardiology (ACC) criteria has been shown to increase the number of appropriate cardiac imaging exams and reduce inappropriate ones, according to a study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and several other U.S. institutions.

The decision-support tool was used instead of radiology benefits managers (RBMs), which traditionally serve as gatekeepers. RBMs generally approve or reject requests for tests based on appropriateness guidelines and partly on proprietary insurer-specific criteria that are not disclosed, which has been a source of criticism, reports Aunt Minnie. UnitedHealthcare, one of the study’s sponsors, instead allowed doctors to solely rely on the tool to make those decisions

The trial involved 100 doctors and nearly 500 patients scanned over eight months. In the first two months, less than half the tests were deemed appropriate, but that rate grew to more than 60 percent in the final two months when using the software. Meanwhile, the proportion of inappropriate studies dropped from 22 percent to 6 percent.

Data from the study were originally presented at the 2012 American College of Cardiology meeting.

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