Do you really need an MRI for that aching back or sore shoulder? How about a CT scan?
For the last three years, thousands of doctors have been using a computer program to help answer those questions. They plug in information about an individual patient, and a computer using national guidelines tells them if a CT or MRI is a good choice — or if there's something better.
That simple step has helped save an estimated $28 million a year by eliminating thousands of unnecessary tests, according to the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, a health research group in Bloomington, Minn.