Imaging Practice Patterns: Referral Network Analysis of a Single State of Origination

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Purpose The aim of this study was to examine the referral pattern of imaging studies requested in a single state compared with the potential location of interpretation. Methods Analysis of Medicare patients in a DocGraph data set was performed to identify sequential different physician services claims for the same patient for which the second claim was for services provided by a radiologist. Results In the 2011 Medicare population, radiology referrals from physicians practicing in Georgia resulted in 76.5% of radiology interpretations by radiologists inside the state of Georgia. The states bordering Georgia accounted for 11.6% of interpretations in the Georgia market. The remaining interpretations were distributed throughout the remainder of the country. Conclusions A significant proportion of routine imaging interpretation occurs outside the state in which an examination is performed. Additional studies are needed to identify complex drivers of imaging referral patterns, such as patient geographic location and demographics, radiologist workforce distribution, contractual obligations, and social relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1413-1418
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Radiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Social network analysis
  • radiology
  • teleradiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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