tech computer phone usedA free online tool is now available to assist Minnesota health providers in selecting the appropriate imaging exams for their patients’ conditions, and therefore reducing unwarranted scans and lowering costs.

Offered by the Minnesota Radiological Society and the National Decision Support Company (NDSC), the ACR Select tool meets state insurer preauthorization requirements without delaying care. Those with a valid national provider identifier can register for access at

“We deliver tools to help providers ensure that their patients receive the best, most appropriate care,” said Kevin Smith, MD, Minnesota Radiological Society president. “Radiologists focus on delivering value to the providers we work with. ACR Select delivers this value and shows the benefits of clinical decision support (CDS) versus an onerous prior authorization process.”

“Many health systems in the state have integrated ACR Select into their electronic health record,” said NDSC chief executive officer Michael Mardini. “This offers providers native access to CDS at the point of order. Free access to the ACR Select portal ensures that every provider ordering high-tech imaging can participate in the prior authorization exemption and access national Appropriate Use Criteria to determine the best test for the patient’s condition.”

Through the work of the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), Minnesota pioneered use of clinical decision support as a cost-effective, provider and patient friendly prior authorization alternative. An ICSI study initiated in 2006 demonstrated that CDS use in imaging ordering reduced the annual imaging growth rate from 7 percent to 1 percent, amounting to an estimated $234 million cost-savings for the state. Many payers now accept CDS use in lieu of radiology benefits managers.

“For over 20 years, the American College of Radiology, with several hundred physician experts, from more than 20 radiology and non-radiology specialty organizations, has developed and updated ACR Appropriateness Criteria based on strong literature evidence basis,” said William Thorwarth, MD, American College of Radiology chief executive officer. “This ACR Select portal improves care and can remove tremendous cost and overhead due to the cumbersome prior authorization process.”

Enabling full interactive access to the ACR Appropriateness Criteria, the ACR Select portal allows Minnesota providers to generate and share a unique Decision Support Number, which verifies their consultation and enables collaboration between the radiologist and ordering provider.

“We fully expect to expand this model into other states, especially in light of the Protecting Access of Medicare Act of 2014 requirement to use CDS for advanced imaging claims paid by Medicare starting in 2017,” said Mardini.

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