The Imaging Center

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If you ask a group of imaging center directors what their No. 1 concern is, you’re likely to hear reimbursement and lots of grumbling about the Deficit Reduction Act. And for good reason. As you know, the DRA has brought significant drops in reimbursement for procedures across the board (approximately $2.8 billion in cuts to Medicare from 2007 to 2010), except for mammography, through a cap on some CPT codes that were higher than hospital outpatient rates and freezing CPT codes that are already lower than hospital outpatient rates. The DRA also reduces the technical component for certain imaging services performed on contiguous body parts and caps the technical component of the physician fee schedule payments for physician office imaging services at the rate paid to hospital outpatient departments.

But as you’ll see in our special section on Imaging Centers this month, facilities with initiative are fighting back with a combination of streamlined workflow, digital technology investment, sharper pencils and a push to increase patient volume and satisfaction.

Success also means differentiating yourself from the competition in terms of technology such as integrated RIS/PACS, digital radiography, digital mammography, and voice recognition, delivering excellent customer service, making scheduling easy, optimizing the patient experience from scheduling through checkout, automating as many functions as you can for patients (directions to the facility and for procedures) and for staff, guaranteeing rapid report turn around and offering sub-specialty reads. Sound like common sense? Remember, common sense isn’t common.

Thriving not just surviving further means a good strategy for storing short term and long term the increasing volume of images generated by 64-slice CT and digital mammography.

Even with the struggle DRAs bring, Baby Boomers are making sure there’s no lack of demand for imaging services. For imaging centers employing smart business decisions and maximizing technology and people, the sting of the DRA can be less painful.