CMS’ move to reimburse doctors for imaging algorithm use is encouraging. But is it enough?

Just last month, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it would start reimbursing for the use of two imaging-based artificial intelligence algorithms. And while many hope the move drives wider adoption, some want CMS to do more.

San Francisco startup and Digital Diagnostics both received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for their tools ContaCT and IDx-DR, respectively. The latter analyzes retinal photos to diagnose diabetic retinopathy, while the former alerts neurosurgeons when an algorithm spots a blood clot on a patients’ CT scan.

CMS determined hospitals are eligible for up to $1,040 for using ContaCT in certain patients, which has already prompted more hospitals to sign up for the tool, WIRED reported on Nov. 10.

But CMS is also proposing doctors get paid much less for using IDx, around $20, Executive Chairman of Digital Diagnostics Michael Abramoff told the tech news outlet. He, along with others including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, have asked CMS to boost that price to make its platform “economically attractive.”

Retina specialist and NYU Langone Health faculty member Ravi Parikh co-authored a paper in July that backed up that sentiment, indicating many clinics wouldn’t find the algorithm worthwhile unless reimbursement increased.

“This [artificial intelligence] has to be incentivized to push adoption,” he told WIRED.

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