By Kate Madden Yee, staff writer
    November 17, 2010

    Tuesday, November 30 | 10:50 a.m.-11:00 a.m. | SSG07-03 | Room S102D
    Boosting the equipment utilization rate to 75% in 2011 as a way to lower Medicare costs will actually limit resources as a flood of new enrollees enter the system, especially in rural areas, according to researchers from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City.

    In this Tuesday morning session, Amit Sura, MD, and colleagues plan to present findings from a literature review they conducted to evaluate whether focusing on equipment utilization is the best way to cut costs, versus focusing on other measures such as appropriateness criteria and preauthorization.

    From the literature, the team found that from 2005 on, the rate of procedure volume has decreased, averaging growth of 1.2% over three years compared to 5.6% from 2000 to 2005. In the studies, 117 imaging centers were asked how their practices would change if the rate was unable to be met and reimbursement fell by 50%: Sura's team found that 29% of these centers would drop Medicare, 41% would limit access to Medicare beneficiaries, and 46% would close.

    A rate of 75% is not feasible when the rate of studies conducted has decreased, Sura's group concluded, and high rates will force rural imaging centers to deny Medicare patients vital tests. Instead, the group suggested, developing and enforcing national standards helps curb the overutilization of studies, without requiring centers to meet unfeasible fixed utilization rates for equipment they own.

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