Assessing the landscape

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds as I try to keep up with the latest imaging applications, and digging through comparative effectiveness research or analyses of dose reduction strategies can be intriguing.

But every once in a while you have to take a step back from this zoomed-in view and look at the bigger picture. A few of this week’s top stories offered just that chance, though the view for some is better than others.

Bad news for radiology came from healthcare search firm Merritt Hawkins, which recently published its “2013 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting.” This annual report assesses search assignments as well as salaries and other financial incentives offered to physicians to determine the most sought after specialties.

A decade ago, this report heralded good things for radiology, which ranked No. 1 on the top 20 list of most requested specialties from 2001-2003. A lot has changed since then, as radiology fell completely off this year’s list after clinging to the 18th spot last year. Meanwhile, primary care physicians remained the most sought after group for the seventh straight year.

A report on the molecular imaging market in this week’s news offered mixed findings for that subspecialty. GlobalData’s “The Future of Molecular Imaging” report noted the advances in research and the fact that at least 14 new molecular imaging agents are being groomed for clinical use.

While these advances are definitely a positive, they don’t necessarily mean the molecular imaging market has a rosy outlook. Development costs, reimbursement snags and looming isotope shortages all represent major barriers. The report’s authors summed the situation by saying, “the euphoria surrounding [molecular imaging] is much greater than the actual rate of growth of the field.”

Medicare beneficiaries received perhaps the best news this week. Their access to care was described as “excellent” by a report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The total number of providers participating in Medicare has steadily increased since 2007, and the percentage of office-based physicians accepting new Medicare patients is now slightly higher than the percentage accepting new privately insured patients.

Hopefully the big picture is looking good at your practice. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

-Evan Godt
Editor – Health Imaging