Cuts cause radiologists to scale back technology upgrades

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A recent survey by the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition has found that imaging practices and providers are scaling back on staff and technology upgrades in the face of 2010 Medicare reimbursement cuts.

According to AMIC, 90 percent of the 131 survey respondents reported that payment cuts are having a negative financial impact on their practices. Forty-two percent of respondents said they were forced to reduce staff, while 24 percent reported they were forgoing medical imaging technology upgrades.

According to an article in DOTmed News, 86 percent of the survey respondents reported that revenue fell in 2011 because of the cuts, with both rural and urban reporting a median decrease of 11 percent in Medicare imaging revenue. Larger facilities (those with more than 30 employees) reported a 16 percent decline in Medicare revenue.

Survey respondents also reported that they faced staffing pressures as a result of the increased use of radiology benefit managers by private payers for pre- and prior authorization of imaging services. More than 43 percent of respondents said they had to add staff to deal with the bureaucratic hurdles caused by the RBMs.

"We're seeing a troubling potential shift in staffing allocation amongst physician practices and imaging providers, with clinical staff being replaced by administrative staff, as practices respond to the financial squeeze of Medicare imaging cuts and the simultaneous increases in imaging authorization approval demands created by RBMs," Tim Trysla, AMIC's executive director, said in an announcement. "This reduction in supply of staff that provides crucial aid in patient treatment at physician practices and imaging providers is not good for care quality, and we need a system that prioritizes patient care before administrative paperwork."

For more information:
- see the announcement from AMIC
- read the article in DOTmed News

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