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MRIs and CT Scans: Overused, Overpriced…and Overrated

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

The Journal of the American Medical Association says Americans are exposed to radiation, overtreatment and high costs via unnecessary scans. Here’s how you can help employees avoid these risks.

From launch, Quizzify has been educating employees about the hazards of diagnostic scans. Check out the graphic below, which compares the US to 20 other countries that, for the most part, have better health outcomes than we do. And yet, we do more MRIs and scans combined than any other country, by far.

As high as these 2013 figures were, the current figures are 10% higher.

Fortunately, the small group of experts aligned with our concerns about overscanning expanded significantly this month, because the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) just published a study on this very same topic, voicing the very same concerns. Well-known physicians from two of the top three medical centers in the US – Stanford and Mayo – observe that “the US occupies top usage ranks,” with residents undergoing five times as many potentially hazardous CT scans as Finland, for example.

Absent employee health literacy, use of scans will continue to grow for four reasons:

  1. Trying to educate physicians not to overprescribe these scans has failed.

  2. Physicians are not encouraged to disclose the hazards of scans. Did yours?

  3. Employers now literally pay employees cash to get scans at low-cost venues. Incentives to steer employees to a low-cost venue are actually a great idea...provided that employees also understand enough about scans to avoid or at least question inappropriate ones.

  4. As the JAMA study authors say: “It will take a lot to wean Americans off their addiction to medical imaging.”

That’s where Quizzify’s unique solution comes in. We don’t simply claim to “wean Americans” off excessive scanning. We have weaned Americans off excessive scanning. The plurality of our named testimonials cover exactly that.

Further we can guarantee that inappropriate scan use will decline…by teaching employees to ask their doctors about scans’ risks or necessity before agreeing to them – exactly as the testimonials say.

We do that by sprinkling hazards-of-scanning questions into many of our quizzes, or providing single-topic dedicated quizzes that employers could insist that employees take before qualifying for any scan-related incentive.

Quizzify educational content addresses radiation in general, radiation risk for children, contrast media risk, and especially overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis is a huge risk of advanced imaging technology, but unless employees are made aware of this risk in advance and know, for example, to question “incidental” findings, they risk hazardous and expensive overtreatment.

And of course, Quizzify2Go guides employees to ask five questions before submitting to any test:

We would encourage everyone to read the JAMA article, or at least the Washington Post summary.


Interested in curbing overuse of unnecessary medical care within your organization? Contact us for a free demo on Quizzify’s engaging and effective health literacy education. Healthcare is the only line item where employees get an unlimited budget with no training on how to spend it – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

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