Imaging utilization increaseswhere radiologists wane

February 1, 2009

Diagnostic imaging utilization rates don’t just swing wildly across the 10 Medicare regions.

Diagnostic imaging utilization rates don’t just swing wildly across the 10 Medicare regions. According to Thomas Jefferson University researchers, the areas with the highest utilization rates also have the lowest percentage of radiologists.

TJU radiology chair Dr. Vijay Rao and colleagues looked at trends in noninvasive imaging services over a five-year period ending in 2006 using the Medicare Part B feefor- service database. In 2006, utilization rates per 1000 beneficiaries ranged from a high of 4532 in the Atlanta region to a low of 2901 in the Seattle region. Radiologists’ share of the imaging services provided ranged from 69% in the Boston region to a low of 58% in the Atlanta region. Plotting radiologist share against the overall utilization rates showed that the higher the utilization rate, the lower the percentage of radiologists providing the services. Rao released findings at the 2008 RSNA meeting.