If the year 2016 was a smooth ride for medical practices, one can't wait for the upcoming year as several policy changes will be directed towards healthcare providers, physicians facilities, diagnostic imaging centers and medical billing and coding agencies. As far as Analog X-Ray payments are concerned Medicare is all set to cut payments from the start of 2017.
As part of a push to prod U.S. healthcare suppliers to receive Digitized radiography (DR), the Medicare framework will start reducing payments for exams performed on analog x-ray frameworks beginning in 2017. The year after that, facilities utilizing computerized radiography (CR) equipment will likewise observe payment reductions.
Medicare payments will be lessened by 20% for suppliers submitting claims for analog x-ray studies beginning in 2017 under an arrangement in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, which was instituted into law in December 2015. From 2018, payment for imaging studies performed on CR hardware would be decreased by 7% for the following five years, and 10% after that.
While the law's arrangements on analog X-rays are required to have a minor effect because of the small number of traditional systems still in operation in the U.S., the cut in CR payments could have a much more extensive impact: More than 8,000 CR units are still in administration in the U.S. These systems must be supplanted or imaging offices will encounter payment decreases. Also, the accounting staff will thereby need to bill the procedures accordingly keeping in mind the changes in payment policy.
Changing the most established methodology
The selection of DR in the past two decades has changed medical imaging's most established methodology, empowering bread-and-butter X-ray images to be acquired rapidly and after that effectively moved into PACS for circulation, translation, and registering. Before DR arrived, numerous offices overhauled their x-ray systems with CR, which replaced film-screen tapes with imaging plates that can be carried to a reader for digital output.
The arrangements embedded into the Consolidated Appropriations Act are intended to speed the move of U.S. healthcare providers toward digital radiography by changing the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System. Delegated as a special rule it determines a 20% cut, beginning in 2017 to the specialized segment of repayment for an x-ray utilizing film.
The cuts for CR are staged in overtime, beginning in 2018. Payment for technical component for X-ray acquired utilizing computed radiography will be decreased by 7% during the years 2018 to 2022 and by 10% after that. This makes the imaging center to review their charging duties, or they can allot the services to an offshore medical billing and coding agency, which are updated with the latest perquisites.
How much will the legislation impact U.S. healing centers? Very little with regards to simple analog X-rays, as the quantity of film-based systems operating in the U.S. has tumbled to miniscule levels, as per market research firm IMV Medical Information Division.
In its 2013 x-ray market report, IMV anticipated that fixed analog x-ray rooms made up only 1% of the hosted base at U.S. clinics, down from 5% in 2010. Without a doubt, the decrease in the analog base was great to the point that in its 2015 report IMV didn't try to ask radiology heads what number of analog units they were still working on.
CR offers an alternate story. While still viewed as digital, the innovation does not have the workflow proficiency of DR, and sales have been declining throughout the years. While CR made up 55% of new digital x-ray sales in 2006, the number tumbled to only 6% in 2015, with rest of digital x-ray sales made up by DR.
By the above explanation you as a practitioner might have picked by the positives and negative of using analog X-rays and replacing it with DR based systems. While reduction in payments is definitely on the cards, an imaging center has to also look into the medical billing modalities as well, as to whether it needs restricting according to the new system.