The Future of Healthcare Reform and Radiology

2011-11-01
 

radiology systems and healthcare reformThe Obama administration recently passed on an opportunity to prevent the Patient Protection  and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) from going to the Supreme Court, so we could have a decision about the Act’s constitutionality by next summer.

In the meantime, though, it’s best to proceed as if PPACA will be implemented as planned. For hospitals and healthcare organizations with radiology systems, that means that this article from Diagnostic Imaging is probably worth reading.

The article reports on the words of Robert Still, a doctor and practice manager at Lancaster Radiology Associates in Auburn, Pennsylvania. Still recently spoke at the AHRA’s annual meeting in Dallas.

According to Still, the healthcare system will change dramatically in the next few years because of PPACA. The biggest change will be in reimbursement methods. Instead of the old (and familiar) fee-for service system, a “bundled” payment structure will predominate. For radiologists and other medical imaging professionals, this probably means a cutback in radiologist reimbursement. And that, in turn, probably means an end to solo and small radiology practices.

A cutback in demand for images is another likely consequence of the shift in reimbursement systems, according to Still. Because of their costs, images will have to be pre-authorized by non-radiologists, and that almost surely means fewer images ordered.

Still also notes present and future trouble with meaningful use compliance. In order to qualify for reimbursement (or, after 2015, avoid a penalty), physicians have to spend a certain amount of time at one facility. Radiologists, who often divide their time between hospitals and clinics, are often left out of reimbursement schemes. Still hopes that officials at CMS will expand their reimbursement qualifications so that more radiologists see the money they deserve.

One thing is for sure, says Still: the practice of radiology will change to accommodate the need for more efficiency and lower costs.

For more information about radiology systems, contact us.

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