Cutting Medicare's red tape is a win for radiology

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week proposed reforms of Medicare regulations it has identified as unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome on hospitals and healthcare providers--several of which will affect the radiology industry.

For instance, CMS recommended the elimination of a requirement that ambulatory surgical centers maintain a radiologist on staff. The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association has argued that the rule makes little sense since radiological services in an ASC usually are limited to intra-operative guidance and don't require radiologic interpretation.

The recommendation appears to be a win for radiologists, too, who often have liability concerns about having to review material not intended to be part of a diagnosis, but instead part of a procedure.

CMS also wants to allow trained nuclear medicine technicians in hospitals to prepare radiopharmaceuticals for nuclear medicine without the constant presence of a supervising physician or pharmacist. The current rule requiring "direct" supervision has been particularly burdensome for hospitals who must have physicians or pharmacists present during off hours to supervise nuclear medicine tests that require minimal in-house preparation of radio-pharmaceuticals.

The new rule, which eliminates the term "direct," was based on the recommendation of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging with the idea that it will help speed services to patients.

Compared to the amount of money spent annually on Medicare, $676 million per year may not seem like much. But CMS should be applauded for these steps. They will help to save time and money for providers and suppliers--radiologists included--and also help reduce administrative burdens. - Mike  @FierceHealthIT