The practice of imaging self-referral doesn't produce much one-stop service

Jonathan Sunshine, Mythreyi Bhargavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Imaging as a result of self-referral-when a physician refers patients for imaging tests at a facility owned or leased by the same physician-is widespread. The practice has come under much scrutiny because it is associated with higher volumes of imaging services. Proponents of such self-referral argue that the practice offers patients convenient same-day, one-stop service and allows treatment to start sooner. Our analysis of 2006 and 2007Medicare data showed that self-referral provided same-day imaging for 74 percent of straightforward x-rays, but for only 15 percent of more-advanced procedures such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Policy makers attempting to make the use of imaging more responsible should consider narrowing Medicare's special provision allowing referrals to a physician's own practice so that the provision covers x-rays only.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2237-2243
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Medicine(all)

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