KLAS: Reimbursement woes plague tomosynthesis

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Major digital mammography vendors scored well with customers, but concerns about tomosynthesis reimbursement and workflow are prominent, according to the Orem, Utah-based research firm KLAS.

The report, titled Women’s Imaging 2012: Tomosynthesis Makes a Splash, identified GE as leading the second tier of digital mammography vendors behind Hologic. Fujifilm and Siemens also performed above the medical equipment average. Although GE has the market share advantage over some other vendors, KLAS reported that sub-par implementations and lagging tomosynthesis developments kept GE from overtaking Hologic.

KLAS also found that Siemens women’s imaging customers reported the most downtime. Fujifilm was appreciated by customers as a cost-effective system and its products were more prevalent in smaller hospitals and outpatient centers. Other vendors included in the report are Aurora, Dilon, SonoCiné and U-Systems.

Overall, KLAS found tomosynthesis lived up to the hype for providers based on its cancer detection potential, but there are still issues to be ironed out. Reimbursement for screening continues to be cut, making costs a concern for those wishing to upgrade to tomosynthesis.

Customers of niche vendors such as Aurora, Dilon, SonoCiné and U-Systems all reported problems getting reimbursed for screening patients, though KLAS reported that U-Systems is currently working with the FDA to get approval for screening ultrasound in all 50 states.  

In addition to reimbursement headaches, some providers had to deal with tomosynthesis/PACS integration issues which lead to workflow problems.

"Some customers reported that their PACS would not accept tomosynthesis studies. It has created a workflow concern for radiologists who have to leave their office or reading room and come out to the tomosynthesis workstation to read the study," said report author Monique Rasband in a statement.

Some providers also stressed the need for more patient education to encourage more women to undergo screening and follow-up exams. KLAS identified patient education as an area where vendors could step in and offer more help to providers.

The report also touched on the use of RIS or mammography information systems by providers to manage their departments or centers. Most providers interviewed for the report indicated they use a mammography information system, rather than a RIS, for their mammography IT needs, with PenRad having the most reported customers in this space.