Are Unbilled Ultrasounds in the ED Impacting Your Bottom Line?

In the Emergency Department (ED), where every moment counts, technology is a game-changer and ultrasound has become a critical tool to provide quick, accurate assessments and help boost real-time diagnostic confidence.

But one study found that approximately 77% of ED ultrasounds could go unbilled1, resulting in up to $3.28 million in lost revenue each year.2

Everything in the ED moves at a breakneck pace, so it’s no wonder some scans fall through the cracks. Often clinicians must choose between taking care of the next patient or taking the time to document. This problem – and the associated loss of revenue – could continue to grow, especially as ultrasound use increases.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) noted, “ACEP believes hospitals should consider emergency ultrasound as standard of care in emergency medicine across emergency departments in the United States. ACEP additionally recognizes that the scope and utilization of ultrasound has greatly increased to where it is now an essential tool to the emergency physician.”3 

Given this trend, it’s important that ultrasound operator experience is streamlined enough that it doesn’t add a layer of administrative burden to the care team. When that happens, often reports aren’t fully completed, and exams go unbilled.

Given that nearly three-quarters of ultrasound exams may be going unbilled today, there are ample opportunities to capture lost revenue. Here’s how:                                                                                           

Realize the promise of ultrasound workflows

Fortunately, technology - specifically AI-powered tech - has evolved to the point that increased automation is now possible, so many non-value-added tasks can be eliminated. This means care teams can spend more time focused on patients and ensuring exam information is complete, which goes a long way in reducing revenue leakage.

The right ultrasound software can also significantly reduce the documentation burden. By combining data transfer, exam documentation, and image archiving in one solution, clinicians can put an end to missing documentation or ‘ghost scans’ that aren’t associated with a patient.

Workflows that are intuitive, easy to use, and minimize steps will also contribute to report completion. Clinicians need an ultrasound workflow solution that allows them to efficiently capture what is needed so they can move on to the next patient.  When care teams in the ED are not burdened by cumbersome systems, they can save time and hospitals can capture lost revenue and increase throughput. GE HealthCare's VerisoundTM digital and AI solutions allow for a more intuitive user experience, simplifying the burden on clinicians and staff while fully integrating with existing hospital infrastructure.

Meeting the user experience expectations of today’s digital native clinicians and ED staff is another opportunity to improve the way operators engage with systems. These users are accustomed to ease-of-use in everything from web banking to online purchases — and nearly all virtual interactions. Bringing the user journey of interacting with complex medical devices more in line with those expectations could help optimize the way clinicians are using the system and boost their overall job satisfaction. And, given this audience’s personal preference and comfort with mobile technology, clearly it needs to be a part of the solution.

Impact beyond revenue capture: lighten the load on staff

The result isn’t just about capturing billing. Clicking through a complex interface for ultrasound can lead to lost time. The reality is that if the workflow is complex and frustrating, clinicians likely won't do it.

Data shows that a streamlined workflow on the right ultrasound system can save up to 79% of time for each ultrasound scan.4 Given the time savings, clinicians are freed up to spend more time focusing on higher-value activities, including patient care and increasing throughput in the chronically overburdened ED.

Emergency Departments need a mix of tech, efficiency, and top-notch care. By embracing smart digital and AI ultrasound solutions, EDs can capture lost revenue and lighten the load on staff. These improvements lead to a better overall experience for everyone involved, which can, in turn, help with another costly problem hospitals are facing – burnout and turnover.



1. Stephen Alerhand et. al., Attrition in emergency department point-of-care ultrasound workflow adherence for the evaluation of cutaneous abscesses, JHNHP 2020

2. Based on GE HealthCare Ultrasound Healthcheck Data


4. Based on an internal GE HealthCare study: "Point of Care Ultrasound – Encounter-based workflow with Venue Family R4 and ViewPoint 6 POC Module improves operational outcomes," June 2022, DOC2757861