Expected Organizational Costs for Inserting Prevalence Information Into Lumbar Spine Imaging Reports

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J Am Coll Radiol


BACKGROUND: Modifying physician behavior to more closely align with guideline-based care can be challenging. Few effective strategies resulting in appropriate spine-related health care have been reported. The Lumbar Imaging With Reporting of Epidemiology (LIRE) intervention did not result in reductions in spine care but did in opioid prescriptions written.

OBJECTIVES: To estimate organizational resource needs and costs associated with implementing a pragmatic, decision support-type intervention that inserted age- and modality-matched prevalence information for common lumbar spine imaging findings, using site-based resource use data from the LIRE trial.

RESEARCH DESIGN: Time and cost estimation associated with implementing the LIRE intervention in a health organization.

SUBJECTS: Providers and patients assessed in the LIRE trial.

MEASURES: Expected personnel costs required to implement the LIRE intervention.

RESULTS: Annual salaries were converted to daily average per person costs, ranging from $400 to $2,200 per day (base case) for personnel (range: $300-$2,600). Estimated total average cost for implementing LIRE was $5,009 (range: $2,651-$12,020), including conducting pilot testing with providers. Costs associated with a small amount of time for a radiologist (6-12 hours) and imaging-ordering providers (1-8 hours each) account for approximately 75% of the estimated total cost.

CONCLUSIONS: The process of implementing an intervention for lumbar spine imaging reports containing age- and modality-appropriate epidemiological benchmarks for common imaging findings required radiologists, imaging-ordering providers, information technology specialists, and limited testing and monitoring. The LIRE intervention seems to be a relatively low-cost, evidence-based, complementary tool that can be easily integrated into the reporting of spine imaging.

Medical Subject Headings

Analgesics, Opioid; Costs and Cost Analysis; Humans; Lumbar Vertebrae; Lumbosacral Region; Prevalence

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