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  • September 2009

    Report: Imaging Equipment Utilization Rates Lower Than Assumed

    Radiology Business Management Association

    Article:

    Imaging Equipment Utilization Rates Lower Than Assumed

    Authors:

    Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA)

    Summary:

    The Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) conducted a survey of its members with freestanding/outpatient imaging centers to collect imaging equipment specific information in anticipation of possible actions to be taken by the United States Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Based on the information obtained from this survey – the most recent and comprehensive data collection of its kind to-date – RBMA calculated equipment utilization rates using two different methodologies for diagnostic imaging services, advanced diagnostic imaging services, and centers located in rural and non-rural settings.

    RBMA found diagnostic imaging utilization rates that are far below those that have been proposed in Congress (75 percent in the CHAMP Act1 and in the recently released U.S. House of Representatives “Tri Committee” healthcare reform bill2), the “normative” 90 percent standard recommended by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) for equipment costing $1 million or more3, or the Administration’s proposal of a 95 percent utilization rate4. Moreover, RBMA’s results suggest a significant difference in equipment utilization between rural vs. non-rural providers. It follows then that any increase in the utilization rate could greatly harm rural imaging centers’ continued ability to provide imaging care to patients within their communities.

    RBMA recommends that Medicare’s utilization rate for medical equipment be based on actual and timely equipment utilization data collection, ensuring the provision of accurate and robust information for decision makers in formulating evidence-based policy rather than projections of efficiency.

    RBMA further warns that an excessive utilization rate may hamper freestanding/outpatient facilities’ ability to introduce new and emerging diagnostic services that may help further prevent and detect disease.

    In conclusion, RBMA’s survey findings are more consistent with CMS’ current equipment utilization assumption of 50 percent rather than the higher rates proposed by either Congress or the White House.
    RBMA cautions that imaging care would experience multiple adverse impacts from any increase in equipment utilization rate that does not reflect actual use in practice. Rural imaging centers’ provision of services and all freestanding/outpatient centers’ ability to adopt new imaging services to further advance disease detection and prevention would particularly be affected.

    These findings also reinforce the need for CMS and diagnostic imaging community stakeholders to work together to develop a more comprehensive and timely equipment utilization data survey for a more factual read on how diagnostic imaging services are currently used in actual practice.

    Click here to access and read the full report.

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