Survey: DRA anxiety puts damper on imaging expenditures

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Worries over the Deficit Act Reduction 2005 (DRA)-mandated Medicare reimbursement cuts have caused many outpatient imaging centers to reduce their capital expenditure outlook for 2007. This is true for nearly half of the imaging centers surveyed by research organization IMV for a new study.

Despite efforts – so far unsuccessful – by lawmakers to either postpone or stop altogether the reimbursement cuts, “over two-thirds of the facilities in our study are taking the most conservative approach to operating under the present circumstances,” said Mary C. Patton, market research.

“For many of them, this translates into cuts in their 2007 budgets for acquiring new diagnostic imaging equipment,” she added.

The survey evaluated responses from 125 administrators from outpatient diagnostic facilities in the United States. Over 25 percent of those surveyed do not expect to see revenue increases this year for any modality. In fact, some modalities are expected to see lower revenues.

To counter this downturn in revenue, imaging centers are stepping up marketing efforts to drum up business, investing in technology to speed operations, and streamlining operations to cut costs, IMV said.

In cases where facilities are going to invest in modalities, less than 25 percent of respondents plan to invest in high-end diagnostic imaging equipment from now to the end of next year.

Specifically, IMV found, none surveyed plan to invest in a 3 Tesla MRI this year, and under 10 percent plan to buy 1.5 T MRI.

These results are details in IMV’s 2007 Outlook for U.S. Diagnostic Imaging Centers: Strategies for Competing in the Post-DRA Era.