Imaging use rates vary by region

April 6, 2010
Rebekah Moan

Utilization rates of CT, MRI, and PET for the Medicare population vary substantially from region to region with Atlanta having the highest rate and Seattle having the lowest, according to a study in the April issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Utilization rates of CT, MRI, and PET for the Medicare population vary substantially from region to region with Atlanta having the highest rate and Seattle having the lowest, according to a study in the April issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Researchers calculated the overall diagnostic imaging procedure utilization rate based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Physician Supplier Procedure Summary Files for 1998-2007. In 2007 Atlanta had the highest utilization rate with 4.6 procedures per capita compared with 3.47 in 1998. In 2007 Seattle had the lowest utilization rate with 2.99 procedures per capita compared with 2.33 in 1998.

“Wide geographic variation in utilization raises questions about underutilization and quality on the low side and overutilization and costs on the high side,” said Laurence Parker, Ph.D., lead author of the study and director of Health Services and Outcome Research at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.