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Understanding Steerage

Insurance companies and third-party radiology benefit management companies often “steer” patients to imaging providers based strictly on the cost of an imaging exam. And, this influence most often happens AFTER a patient leaves their doctor’s office.

Many referring providers don’t realize how or when their patients are steered away from specific radiology. Caller scripts are confusing and intentionally present inaccurate pricing or service information. From the caller’s pressure, patients assume the alternate radiology facility is equal, have access to their records, can compare prior imaging, and is approved by their doctor. Most often, this isn’t true.

By allowing themselves to be steered to a new radiology provider, patients may:

  • Not get the quality imaging expected by their provider
  • Not get sub-specialized interpretations
  • Not get appropriate follow-up recommendations, and
  • Actually increase their overall costs

Before selecting or changing a radiology provider, patients should always discuss imaging quality with their physician and understand what’s expected from their radiology exam. Using a quality radiology partner may actually reduce a patient’s overall costs because detailed results from fewer scans can be gathered.

When selecting a radiology provider, providers and patients should consider:

  • Individual patient needs
  • Radiologist expertise and subspecialty training
  • Accreditation and certification standards as well as exam protocols
  • Access to prior imaging for comparison
  • Quality assurance programs
  • The age and performance of the imaging equipment
  • Patient safety and convenience
  • Physician communication and consultation
  • Patient satisfaction

At WakeRad UNC REX, quality imaging is consistent, accurate and affordable. Learn more about the various ways we measure both quality and value for our patients and referring providers.

If referring providers or patients have questions about insurance or an exam’s cost, please contact our Billing team at 919-787-8221 or via email. We’re happy to address questions based on a patient’s radiology order and their particular insurance coverage as well as discuss how our payment options can reduce or help manage their imaging costs.