A recent New York Times article was written about the increasing costs and usage of echocardiograms in the United States.

The piece questioned why the same patient getting an outpatient echocardiogram at two different hospitals would have a large discrepancy in cost billed. It cited a patient who was charged $1,400 and $5,500 at different hospitals for different levels of echocardiogram services. The chairman of the advocacy committee of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) Dr. David Wiener was interviewed for the article and stated that numerous factors go into pricing these tests, such as state regulations, subsidies, and how the hospital or doctor performs the test. He felt that the price difference of the echocardiogram tests were on par with the different pricing for other medical tests.

The painless, side effect free testing of an echocardiogram is a draw for doctors and cardiologists alike to order the procedure for their patients versus an MRI or CT scan. Patients getting ready for all types of surgery – even cataract surgery – may be recommended to have an echocardiogram if they have a history or symptoms of heart disease. The article pointed out that a number of the tests were ordered by noncardiologists, and that these tests were unnecessary. The New York Times quoted a study saying the number of echocardiograms was increasing rampantly and had rose 90 percent from 1999 to 2008. This statement was rebuked in a Letter to the Editor by ASE’s President Neil Weissman, who points out that the number of echocardiograms declined by more than 10 percent in 2010-2012 for Medicare patients.

The article also references the diminished size and increased portability of echocardiograms. It mentions technology advances, such as reading on an iPhone using tools like our Studycast mobile echocardiogram software.

Read the full New York Times article here.

Echocardiogram Management Software

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