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Health insurers should provide financial incentives for physicians to try ultrasound imaging first, before they think about other imaging modalities, according to Kevin M. Goodwin.

Of course, Goodwin may be a bit biased. He’s president and chief executive officer of SonoSite, which makes point-of-care ultrasound equipment. SonoSite has been one of the main drivers behind the American Institute of Ultrasound In Medicine’s Ultrasound First campaign.

Still, in today’s environment, a financial argument will get a lot of attention. And Goodwin thinks ultrasound has a strong case:

It’s going to be a big contributor in the long term to save our health care system money.

Goodwin was quoted this week in a DOTmed News interview.

Goodwin said a recent study of Medicare data by KNG Health Consulting found that more use of ultrasound to diagnose injuries to the extremities would be cost-effective. “Even a small increase in the use of ultrasound versus other imaging modalities, just 2.5 percent, saved the Medicare program $34 million,” he said.

So, he said, Medicare and other insurers should change their reimbursement systems regarding “the hierarchy of use in ultrasound versus the other modalities in radiology and elsewhere.”

Goodwin said two Los Angeles-area hospitals “have employed ultrasound at the point of care to get things done visually without going to X-rays and other tests.” At UCLA Critical Care Service, he said, “The leading physician there has told us she saves three dollars for every one she spends on ultrasound used at the point of care.”

He said he saw only one thing holding back increased bedside use of ultrasound:

The issue is that there are people who want to fight for continued use of MRI and CT, even in situations when physicians say it is simply not needed.

Related CME seminar (up to 14.5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits): Advances in Fetal and Neonatal Imaging

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