In the latest installment in the ongoing series of articles titled “Paying Till It Hurts,” New York Times writer Elisabeth Rosenthal explores the wide variation in cost for heart ultrasound test that is seen across the country.
The test, whether it’s with a large hospital-based machine or a pocket-size handheld device, has become far more common over the last decade as the cost for the technology has fallen.
Scripps Health cardiologist Eric Topol, MD, told Rosenthal that some of the ultrasound tests aren’t necessary. “At many hospitals, the threshold for ordering an echocardiogram is the presence of a heart.”
Handheld versions, such as the device he uses on his Scripps Clinic patients in La Jolla, are more affordable and more convenient. “It brings $350,000 imaging technology to the bedside as a screening test, at almost no cost,” he said. “But it’s not being embraced because of our model of payment.”
Read the New York Times article: The Odd Math of Medical Tests: One Scan, Two Prices, Both High