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Two U.S. congressmen have introduced a bill that would require doctors to use clinical decision support software in ordering diagnostic imaging tests that are reimbursed by Medicare.

Erik Paulsen, R-Minnesota, last week introduced the Excellence in Diagnostic Imaging Utilization Act. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is co-sponsor.

In a news release announcing the legislation, Representative Paulsen referred to the use of such software in his state:

By following Minnesota’s lead and utilizing tools like Clinical Decision Support (CDS) we can share best practices, improve clinical outcomes, reduce costs from unnecessary testing, and improve patient safety.

imagingBiz reports that RADPAC, the political action committee of the American College of Radiology, supports the legislation. Similar language was included in a bill designed to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula for Medicare. Representative Paulsen’s bill amounts to a hedge in case the SGR bill falters, said RADPAC Director Ted Burnes.

“Ordering physicians are not required to follow the recommendations from CDS, protecting the doctor-patient relationship,” said Representative Paulson’s news release, “but regular reports and guidelines from the system will encourage doctors not to order unnecessary or excessive tests.”

We reported on the Minnesota initiative three years ago. An ordering physician enters patient information and selects an imaging procedure. Software ranks the usefulness of the procedure according to ACR criteria. If the doctor decides to order a low-ranked scan, he or she must enter a justification.

Five medical groups, four health plans, the state Department of Human Services, and St. Paul Radiology participated. The medical groups liked the results enough to continue using the system after a pilot program ended in 2008. The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, which organized the initiative, says the system has stopped an estimated $150 million worth of low-ranked scans in Minnesota since 2007.

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At last, a 7-tesla MRI scanner has arrived at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, nine months behind schedule. Why the delay? GE Healthcare blamed, in part, the helium shortage. For details, see our Facebook page.

Related CME seminar (up to 59.25 AME PRA Category 1 credits™): National Diagnostic Imaging Symposium™


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