ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Focusing on Economics

The Economics Forum walked attendees through current and future CPT codes and what they mean for radiology.
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June 29, 2021

Gregory N. Nicola, MD, FACR, chair of ACR’s Commission on Economics, welcomed attendees to the Economics Forum. The absence of the forum at ACR 2020 made the buzz around this year’s platform palpable — even virtually. “We’re here to walk you through what happens from when a code is introduced or revalued through the actual valuation of a service,” Nicola began. “We are very excited to have these forum members today who can speak to all of your questions on reimbursement and our economic future.”

Members of the forum who were asked to field questions on the final day of the annual meeting included: Melissa M. Chen, MD, chair of the Patient- and Family-Centered Care Economics Committee; Sammy Chu, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Contractor Advisory Committee Network; Timothy A. Crummy, MD, MHA, FACR, ACR vice speaker and vice chair of the ACR Coding and Nomenclature Committee; William D. Donovan, MD, MPH, FACR, ACR RUC Panel Member for Radiology; Lauren P. Golding, MD, ACR RUC advisor; and Kurt A. Schoppe, MD, radiology alternate RUC representative.

Schoppe began by telling attendees that seeing AI, corporatization, third-party payers, or teleradiology as threats is irrational — as fear of change is irrational in radiology, he said. “Think of what it was like when PACS came along or the widespread use of CT and MRI,” he said. “They have benefitted our profession over time, not hurt the specialty. We cannot hide from AI software tools. Some groups will do well and others will not, if they listen to false prophets.”

"We cannot hide from AI software tools. Some groups will do well and others will not, if they listen to false prophets."

—Kurt A. Schoppe, MD

Golding was asked about anything in the RUC CPT® process that could potentially threaten the radiology schedule outside of the broader evaluation and management (E/M) services changes to the MPFS. Practice expense is one thing, she said, using US as an example of how radiology could bill for a typical study. “A pelvic US 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, she added.

Crummy gave a shout-out to the ACR economics team because the RUC and CPT teams have worked so well together. Chen said that it is promising that CMS is on the right track to approve codes for AI. “Even though they aren’t specifically for radiology now, the move is in the right direction,” she said.

Schoppe went on to say that codes for E/M services will “require our attention. But as long as we focus on high-quality work and patient care, we are going to succeed.”