Attributes of nuclear imaging centers impacting physician referrals for single-photon emission computed tomography myocardial perfusion imaging tests
Journal of Medical Economics. Aug 2017;20(8):777-785
To evaluate nuclear imaging center attributes that cardiologists and primary care physicians (PCPs) consider when referring patients for single-photon emission computed tomography myocardial perfusion imaging (SPECT-MPI) tests, and how these attributes impact physicianreferral decisions in the United States.
A targeted literature review and seven one-to-one interviews with physicians and imaging center directors were conducted to identify attributes that could impact physicians' referral decisions. The impact of the identified attributes was assessed via an online discrete choice survey among eligible PCPs and cardiologists randomly selected from a nationally representative panel, and quantified with an odds ratio (OR) scale estimated with a multivariable logistic regression.
Nine two-level attributes were identified: ease of the referral process, waiting time for tests, insurance preauthorization assistance, time to receive results, conclusive test reports, patient satisfaction, a protocol for rapid conversion from an exercise to a pharmacological stress test, patient communication, and assistance with parking/wheelchair access. A total of 410 physicians, including 208 (50.7%) cardiologists and 202 (49.3%) PCPs completed the survey. Among all physicians, a protocol that allows for a rapid conversion from an exercise to a pharmacological stress test (OR = 2.9) and preauthorization assistance (OR = 2.6) were the most impactful attributes. Additionally, cardiologists preferred imaging centers that provide an easy referral process (OR = 2.7), while PCPs favored centers offering a conclusive test report (OR = 2.4).
Some center features that might impact physician referral decision were not evaluated in this study, if they were not easily changeable from an imaging center's perspective.
The availability of a protocol for rapid conversion from an exercise to a pharmacological stress test and preauthorization assistance had the most significant impact on physician referral decisions for SPECT-MPI. Additionally, cardiologists preferred centersproviding an easy referral process, while PCPs favored those offering a concluding statement and actionable steps in test reports.