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Americans Agree Radiology Scans Are Essential for Diagnosis


Most Americans say they would undergo radiologic imaging - and pay more - to receive a diagnosis, even if no cure or treatment was available.

Americans value and are willing to undergo diagnostic radiology exams - and perhaps pay more - to reduce unnecessary, invasive medical procedures and overall healthcare costs, according to a study published in the journal Value in Health.

As the levels of diagnostic radiology testing rose over the past few decades and is now leveling off, researchers sought to understand how members of the general public valued information resulting from these tests.

Researchers from the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Mass., Health Economics and Reimbursement – Americas, and GE Healthcare in Wauwatosa, Wisc. searched through the literature for articles that reviewed willingness-to-pay for diagnostic tests that were published from 1985 to 2011. They identified 66 relevant studies that focused on oncology (50 percent), infectious diseases (16.1 percent), obstetric and gynecological conditions (11.7 percent) and others. The tests included biological samples or genetic testing (61.1 percent) or imaging tests (31.9 percent).

The researchers found that higher income, higher education, disease severity, perceived disease risk, family history, and more accurate tests were associated with higher willingness-to-pay values.

The study’s findings backed up results from a study published in early May by Siemens and conducted by Harris Interactive. This poll showed that most Americans (92 percent) felt that their need to know regarding their health was as important as actually having access to a physician. Results also showed that 78 percent of respondents would consent to a diagnostic procedure even if no treatment or cure could be offered. As well, 97 percent agreed that by undergoing these tests to rule out certain diagnoses, money would be saved in the long run by avoiding costly treatments.

Radiologic diagnostic image testing has been proven to save lives and decrease healthcare costs, said the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), which touted the two studies in a release this week. “Medical imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) are essential to the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of cancer and other deadly diseases.”

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