Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare | October 2012

By Teri Yates

Diagnostic radiology is a vital component of the healthcare system and is utilized in the diagnosis and management of nearly every hospital patient. Radiology services cost $175 billion annually in the United States, representing 7.5% of total healthcare expenditures.

Given the size of the annual spend, there can be little argument that aggressive utilization management is warranted to control front-end costs; however, evaluating the quality of service is equally important since radiology errors can lead to significant downstream costs. For perspective, a study by Radisphere estimated the cost of radiology error at $31B annually (Radisphere National Radiology Group, 2011).

Because radiologists play such a prominent role in the diagnostic process, it is critical that their interpretations are both definitive and accurate. Increasing focus by payers and accrediting organizations on the task of radiology performance measurement further supports the conclusion that both the administrative and clinical aspects of the service must be closely monitored by hospitals. Examples of these initiatives include: