How Radiologic Imaging Can Decrease Health Costs

Medical imaging for diagnosis has been proven to save lives and decrease healthcare costs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and computed tomography (CT Scans) are essential to the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of lesions, cancer, and many other serious conditions. However, in the past few decades, the United States has experienced increased costs in diagnostic radiology, thus leading some to revisit the value of medical imaging.

Recently, researchers in the field have sought to understand how the general public values information provided via medical imaging. The results from these studies show that the American public agrees that imaging tests are essential for diagnosis despite their cost.

Americans See the “Value of Knowing” More About their Health


In May 2013, Siemens published a study which showed that 92 percent of Americans felt that they need to have up-to-date information regarding their own health was as important as actually having access to a physician.

Other results provided insights into when Americans see the value in medical imaging:

  • Almost nine in ten Americans (87%) agree that ruling out a diagnosis can save money in costly treatments that may not have been needed.
  • Roughly two-thirds (66%) of Americans would even be willing to pay out of their own pocket for tests to diagnose serious illness if there were such a test but it was not covered by their insurance.

Commenting on the survey results, Dr. Gregory Sorensen, the CEO of Siemens Healthcare and a board-certified neuroradiologist said:

“There is simply a rational, financial and emotional value to knowing if you are sick. The survey findings show clearly that Americans want to know exactly where they stand when it comes to their health. As a physician, I know first-hand there is great value in excluding a diagnosis. This is a critical step to ensure that patients avoid unnecessary, expensive medical interventions. Medical imaging and diagnostic technologies were not developed to drive up costs. They were developed to improve health.

“Overall, we found these survey findings to be quite eye-opening. The results show that Americans, on the whole, are much more concerned about paying for medical care (72%) than about access to medical care (28%). At the same time, Americans have great faith in the benefits of medical testing and imaging as a means to a correct diagnosis. As a physician and as an executive responsible for the health insurance of thousands of our employees, I know that effectively used diagnostic tests can help more efficiently manage healthcare expenditures while providing patients with knowledge and peace of mind.”

Overall Utilization of Medical Imaging Is Increasing Amid Improved Access and an Aging Population

On Sept. 4, 2019, the American College of Radiology (ACR) shared a statement about new research that found imaging utilization increasing in the years 2000-2016. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, explored exam counts for MRI, CT scans and other imaging tests from 2000 to 2016 in the United States and Ontario, Canada. The JAMA study was authored by Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, from the department of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California San Francisco, and her colleagues.

The ACR statement emphasized that the tests typically occur in place of more invasive procedures:

“… despite an aging population and more people receiving care — the rate of growth of medical imaging use has decreased as technology has matured and doctors have become more educated on when to use these lifesaving exams…. Imaging exams are generally safer and cost less than invasive procedures they replace. Scans reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and length of hospital stays. Imaging is directly linked to greater life expectancy and declines in mortality. Americans with greater access to imaging live longer than those with lesser access.”

Doctors Must Overcome Increasing Hurdles When Ordering Exams


Deborah Levine, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Richard Duszak Jr, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, wrote an editorial on the findings from studying tests from 2000 to 2016. Their editorial was also published in JAMA. Dr. Levine and Dr. Duszak note that the increases have been seen during a time when there are increasing barriers to medical imaging, suggesting that doctors see great value in ordering the imaging exams despite the obstacles:

“The increasingly burdensome preapproval steps that some treating physicians need to navigate to order imaging studies are relevant. If physicians did not perceive imaging as necessary or valuable, perhaps they would just stop ordering it. A plausible explanation, then, for increasing use of advanced imaging is that the results of these tests continue to be perceived as improving patient care and outcomes…Knowing that imaging utilization is increasing is an important and necessary step toward the ultimate collective goal of knowing what medical imaging is appropriate. Counting imaging examinations is easier than measuring imaging outcomes, and that is why more work is needed. Studies such as this report by Smith-Bindman et al should serve to inspire and inform imaging researchers as they move their agendas from ‘how much’ to ‘how appropriate’ to ultimately ‘how patient outcomes are improved.”

Doctors Imaging Is Available When You Need to Know

We recognize that your medical imaging is just one part of your health care. And when you visit, we have confidence that you and your doctor are depending on high-quality images to help you take the next step towards your better health. We promise to give you and your doctor the best information possible from your imaging exam. At the same time, we are proud to offer MRIs, CT scans and other testing that is always more affordable than the hospital.

Interested in learning more about the value of medical imaging? Try these resources:

4 Things Your Radiologist Wants You to Know

1. You Cannot Get Cancer from Any Imaging Procedure

Any radiologist could tell you this is not an uncommon concern. It would not seem a smart idea for us to get into a field that promoted or produced cancer in our patients, would it? We would be putting ourselves out of business. There are some sensational articles that claim that medical imaging procedures like CTs and PET-CT scans can lead to cancer but these have never been validated and medical imaging is the best method for diagnosis without incisions or exploratory surgery. In fact, medical imaging is how cancer is uncovered so that it can be treated.

2. Being Informed is the Best Way to Feel Comfortable

We understand that having a medical imaging procedure performed can be a nervous experience, especially if you have never had it done before. However, any radiologist would tell you that the more questions you ask and information you search for, the more you will see that there is nothing to be afraid of. But be sure of where you are getting that research from, there is a lot of misinformation in this field.

3. The Quality of Your Images Depends on the Equipment Used

With every procedure, the goal is to look inside the body’s structures and functions and see if there is anything concerning. With every kind of medical imaging procedure, there are different kinds of equipment and hence, qualities of images. For example, an MRI’s quality of images can differ between open and standard MRI machines. There are different slice capabilities in CT equipment that can effect the quality of the images and interpretations. Whenever you are having a medical imaging procedure, see if you can find out about the equipment that will be used. The best equipment means the best images which means the most accurate diagnosis.

4. The Field of Radiology is Always Changing

Like most medical fields, the field of radiology is an ever-changing one. There are always new advances, discoveries and innovations and we as radiologists have to stay updated. What is the standard today might be totally obsolete by tomorrow. But because of the changing nature of this field, that means constant improvement which we consider a benefit for our patients. At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, our radiologists are committed to bringing the state of the art equipment and the latest innovations in our field like open MRIs, digital X-rays, and our new Concussion Imaging Program that uses qDTI, a very advanced MRI technique.

Have more questions about radiology or having your medical imaging procedure? You can call our offices at 504-833-8111 or use our Request an Appointment page to schedule a consultation.

Common Radiology Myths Debunked – Facts and Answers

At Doctors Imaging, we’ve heard nearly every question and concern from patients. With the proliferation of information available on the internet, it’s becoming a lot more common for patients to come in with questions about confusing or simply incorrect information they found online. With this post, our goal is to clear up some of that information for you.

When people come in for their medical imaging procedures, they feel a number of different emotions. Fear, insecurity, and anxiety are the most commonly described feelings. Some are afraid of what the results will be, others are afraid of a painful procedure, but many patients find themselves worried about the radiation exposure from the machinery involved in procuring internal images.

Myth #1: Radiation from Medical Imaging is Dangerous

Radiation is an important concern. If you are going to a doctor’s office to see if something is wrong, then you likely don’t want to do anything that could hurt you. Doctors Imaging is just as concerned with your safety and wants you to know that they have every possible safeguard in place to protect you and the technicians that work around these machines everyday.

To begin, you should know that radiation is a common element of everyday life. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, “we are surrounded by naturally-occurring radioactive elements in the soil and stones” and the “radioactive particles we take into our bodies through food and water.” Furthermore, we are composed of radiation in our bones and blood and are exposed through consumer products like aluminized watches and ionized smoke detectors, even airplanes give off bits of radiation. Our body is constantly bombarded by bits of radiation but people are still healthy.

This is because radiation can only have negative effects on the body when you are exposed to large doses in an unsupervised environment. At Doctors Imaging, our technicians are selected for their experience and knowledge as well as their patient care. We are committed to making you feel comfortable with your imaging procedure and keeping you informed by answering all of your questions. We minimize radiation in every way possible. If a procedure is important for your health, you should not hesitate to follow your doctor’s recommendations. But feel free to discuss with your doctor or us as to whether there are good diagnostic alternatives available.

Myth #2: Radiation Will Make me Sick

A common question with any imaging procedure is “Can I get sick from the radiation?” And the answer would be no, it would be very rare to have an adverse reaction from the imaging procedures provided by Doctors Imaging in Metairie. We have state of the art equipment and experienced professionals working in our facility to make sure that your health is constantly protected. All of the imaging machines at Doctors Imaging are programmed to have the lowest possible radiation exposure while still providing the clearest images for the doctor and patients viewing.

At Doctors Imaging, we offer a number of imaging procedures including MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, PET-CT scans, and ultrasounds. The only way to be exposed to radiation would be through X-ray and CT machines. MRI and Ultrasound do not use radiation. While X-rays may expose the body to radiation, it is usually limited to a specific area. In addition, the X-ray machines at Doctors Imaging are digital X-rays, which means that the radiation exposure is significantly reduced. Having digital X-rays provides doctors with better images and gives patients the peace of mind that their medical procedures are safe.

The other common way patients are exposed to radiation is with CT machines. CT stands for computed tomography. CTs use computer software along with X-ray capabilities to create cross-sectional images of the body. By doing this, doctors can see deeper into the body’s soft tissues and blood vessels and have clearer images. As stated earlier, the amount of radiation coded into the machine is at the lowest possible setting to insure that the images produced are still of the best quality.

Myth #3: Open and Closed MRIs produce the same images

Some patients ask our technicians about the difference between open and closed MRIs. Open MRIs are low strength and refer to machines that have a large opening so that patients do not feel as enclosed. While this may be more comfortable for some, the images produced in standard high strength MRIs are superior and preferred. By using advanced high field MRI, the machine creates clearer images. Doctors Imaging offers both MRI machines. Whatever the patient decides is best for them will be respected but if you having an imaging procedure performed, it is recommended that you get the best quality images you can. If you are nervous or claustrophobic about any of our imaging equipment, speak with your doctor or our staff about playing calming music or having a sedative available.

If you’ve heard any other “facts” about Medical Imaging you’d like us to double-check, post a message on our Facebook or tweet at @DoctorsImaging and we’ll answer them next time.