Patients’ Search Patterns for Imaging Costs

Patients' online searches for imaging costs are increasing, according to a study presented at ACR 2016.

Patients are increasingly comparison shopping when it comes to CT scans, according to a presentation at the 2016 annual meeting of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, sought to determine how U.S. consumers studied online imaging costs. The researchers temporally studied individual user search patterns for costs associated with advanced medical imaging in order to determine and compare search volume indexes (SVIs) from January 2009 through December 2015, focusing specifically on the search terms “CT cost” and “MRI cost.”

The results showed that the SVI for both CT and MRI costs increased each year during the study time period, but more so for CT (59.6%) than MRI (34.6%). The researchers noted that in all years, there was at least twice as much searching for CT costs than MR costs.

The online searches for both CT and MRI have consistently increased over the past few years, although patients seem to be more interested in the cost of CT than MR imaging. The researchers concluded that practices and facilities seeking to meet patient needs should be responsive to increasing interest in cost transparency.