Doctors often recommend medical tests such as imaging techniques to rightly diagnose a health condition. Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and its Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center have revealed patients with low-risk prostate or breast cancer were more or less likely to receive inappropriate imaging tests during treatment, depending on the region of the country in which they received medical care.
Researchers analyzed medical records from 2004-2007 of 9,219 men with low-risk prostate cancer and 30,398 women with low-risk breast cancer, across 84 separate hospital referral regions (HRRs). They found that overuse of imaging occurred at a rate of approximately 44.4% for men and nearly 42% for women. This inappropriate use of imaging was strongly linked to certain regions across the U.S. in which patients were treated. For example, HRRs in the Northeast reported higher use of imaging techniques for low-risk patients, while other regions, such as the Northwest and Utah, demonstrated more appropriate use of imaging.
Danil V. Makarov, assistant professor of Urology, Population Health, and Health Policy at NYU Langone and a member of the Perlmutter Cancer Center and lead investigator of the study said, "These findings challenge us to move in a different direction than focusing exclusively on individual patient/doctor decision making. Policy makers and researchers need to target high-utilization regions and promote incentives for appropriate care. Such a focus would enhance efforts to cut excessive health spending and build value-based strategies into health care practice. If we are to achieve better value-based care, we must focus on issues such as regional culture and infrastructure. The push to focus on decision making between doctor and patient is not likely to be sufficient."
The study appears online in JAMA Oncology