Hospitals will perform about 6% more cardiac catheterization procedures in 1994 than in 1993, according to a recent study by Des Plaines, Ill.-based Technology Marketing Group.
That's a sharp contrast to the trends in other types of medical imaging. For example, hospitals didn't perform any more nuclear medicine procedures in 1993 than they did in 1992, according to a previous TMG survey (Aug. 29, p. 46). Magnetic resonance procedures, meanwhile, might have dropped as much as 15% this year, according to some imaging centers. TMG, however, won't have national data to verify those reports until 1995.
Diagnostic tests are drawing more scrutiny from managed-care plans and other payers, which argue that 10% to 50% of procedures aren't necessary (Nov. 29, 1993, p. 34). In response, many physicians are ordering fewer tests.
Cardiac catheterization procedures stand out because they're vital to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, said John Vanden Brink, managing partner at TMG. Physicians typically have ordered those tests more carefully than other types of imaging procedures because they can be risky, Mr. Vanden Brink said.
In 1993, U.S. cardiac catheterization laboratories performed 1.7 million diagnostic procedures; 430,000 interventional procedures, mostly angioplasties; and 90,000 electrophysiological studies, the TMG study said.
Its figures reflect reports from more than 90% of the 1,600 U.S. cardiac catheterization laboratories, most of which are associated with hospitals.
The laboratories surveyed planned more than $550 million in capital expenditures in 1994, according to the survey. They employed more than 6,000 nurses, 3,400 cardiovascular technologists, 3,100 radiologic technologists and 1,900 administrators.