May 20, 2021

Hot Topics in Imaging Economics

Gregory N. Nicola, MD, FACR, Chair of ACR Commission on Economics, led the ACR 2021 Virtual Economics Forum, which provided a venue to walk through the process from the time that a billable code is introduced or re-evaluated, through the actual valuation of a service. Members of the forum included: Melissa L. Chen, MD; Sammy Chu, MD, FACR; Timothy A. Crummy, MD, FACR; William D. Donovan, MD, MPH, FACR; Lauren P. Golding, MD; and Kurt A. Schoppe, MD.

Schoppe began the forum by telling attendees that viewing artificial intelligence (AI), corporatizations, third-party payers or teleradiology as threats is irrational — fear of change is irrational in radiology. “Think of what it was like when … widespread use of CT and MRI [began],” said Shoppe. “They have benefitted our profession over time, not hurt the specialty.”

When Golding was asked about anything in the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) current procedural terminology (CPT®) process that could potentially threaten radiology payment besides the broader evaluation and management (E/M) services changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, Golding pointed to practice expense, using ultrasound as an example of how radiology could bill for a typical study. “A pelvic ultrasound 10 years ago used to be billed at a higher rate,” she said. “Since then, other physicians are using portable equipment and at the RUC, that became the typical patient.”

Schoppe said E/M services codes will “require our attention … but as long as we focus on high-quality work and patient care, we are going to succeed.”