GAO Report Reveals Substantial Increase in Self-Referred Imaging Services

November 7, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


In 2010, self-referring providers referred about two times as many magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) services than providers who did not self-refer, states a September 28, 2012, report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to the report, from 2004 through 2010, the number of self-referred and non-self-referred advanced imaging services (MRI and CT) both increased; however, the increase was significantly more substantial among self-referred services. For example, the number of self-referred MRI services increased over this period by more than 80%, as compared with an increase of 12% for non-self-referred MRI services. GAO's investigation indicated that providers' referrals of MRI and CT services substantially increased the year after they began to self-refer. Providers that began self-referring in 2009 increased MRI and CT referrals by an average of 67% in 2010 when compared with 2008.

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