June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (#MHAM), the full headache, migraine and cluster communities are working together for the diseases to be recognized. A disease awareness month plays a vital role in raising public knowledge, addressing stigma and building a stronger community of patient advocates.
To celebrate National #MHAM, Virginia Health Information interviewed Timmerie Cohen, PhD, RT (R) (T), CMD, Clinical Coordinator of Radiation Therapy at VCU Health in Richmond, Virginia. Cohen, alongside colleagues, Jeffrey Legg, Melanie Dempsey and Jillian Capucao (VHI's Senior Epidemiology Analyst), researched computed tomography utilization rates in non-traumatic headaches. Data from Virginia's All Payer Claims Database (APCD) was utilized for this project. Their research and findings from "Do Hospital Characteristics Effect CT Utilization Rates for Non-Traumatic Headaches in the Emergency Department?" has been accepted for presentation at the International Society of Radiographers & Radiological Technologists (ISRRT) World Congress.
What influenced the initial research on Hospital Characteristics Effect CT Utilization Rates for Non-Traumatic Headaches in the Emergency Department (ED)?
Radiology expenditures in the ED are the fastest growing expenditures to date. Resource utilization is a major topic in health policy. Looking at narrow low yield exams (head CT for non-traumatic headache) allowed us to explore hospital characteristics and if those characteristics influenced the probability that that exam would be ordered.
What trends did you discover during your research?
There was no increased probability of ordering a head CT for non-traumatic headache based on hospital characteristics (rural vs urban, teaching vs non-teaching, profit vs non-profit).
What was your most surprising/interesting discovery during your research?
It is very interesting to find no increased probability. Antidotal examples of "they order more CTs because the hospital is a for profit hospital" or "teaching hospitals do more CTs," was not demonstrated in this exploratory study. It also demonstrates that rural hospitals use their advanced technologies in a manner that mirrors their urban counterparts. More studies such as these should be done to track radiology resource utilization.
How did the APCD data help to support your findings?
Their data set allowed a statewide exploration of CT utilization. This topic is huge and being able to compare hospital characteristics across the Commonwealth allowed us to explore CT resource utilization. More research is warranted in imaging resource utilization.