(HealthDay News) — Quality, patient outcomes, and costs must all be assessed in determining the appropriateness of noninvasive cardiovascular imaging, according to an American College of Cardiology (ACC) health policy statement published in the February 25 issue of in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Daniel B. Mark, MD, and members of the ACC Clinical Quality Committee, conducted a review of the literature to identify utilization patterns and generate initiatives to improve imaging use. The health policy statement was endorsed by 14 other relevant medical societies.

The authors warn that simplistic models that exclusively connect reimbursement with utilization can lead to bad policy that may harm patients. The statement highlights practices that may not currently be effective, including prior authorization policies that may seriously limit patient access; in addition, cuts to reimbursement for office-based care may shift care to a more expensive hospital environment. As a solution, the authors suggest a more sophisticated approach with the aim of responsible imaging use. Such policies should be informed by high-quality data, including both randomized trials and clinical registries that could identify patterns in patient outcomes, resource use, and medical costs. Additionally, electronic medical records could support appropriate use criteria and decision support systems that combine patient-specific information with statistical models and other prediction rules.

“We have many of the ingredients needed to create a more responsible, cost-conscious approach to imaging that still preserves — at its core — patient-physician decision making,” Mark said in a statement.

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