The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically undercut the confidence that radiology administrators and imaging center directors have in their business prospects for the immediate future, according to second-quarter results in the Medical Imaging Confidence Index (MICI).
Four of the five components of the index dropped dramatically compared with the previous quarter, and the MICI's composite score also plunged. In comments made to MICI surveyors, administrators and directors say they have seen dramatic cuts in imaging volumes, with some sites in "survival mode."
The MICI's composite score for the second quarter was 72, indicating "low confidence" in future business prospects for the upcoming quarter. That compares with a score of 116 in the first quarter of 2020 and a score of 113 for the index in the second quarter of 2019.
The Medical Imaging Confidence Index is derived from survey responses of radiology administrators and business managers who are members of the AHRA, the association for medical imaging management. Market research firm the MarkeTech Group queries members of the MICI panel about five important trends faced by radiology administrators in the upcoming quarter to provide a barometer of their sentiment about near-term business prospects.
For the 2020 second-quarter data, the index included 179 participants from across the U.S., with 13% based in the mid-Atlantic region, 15% in the South Atlantic region, 6% in the East South Central region, 20% in the East North Central region, 16% in the West North Central region, 11% in the West South Central region, 7% in the Mountain region, and 11% in the Pacific region.
Participants were asked to rate their optimism about the five topics, and a single composite score including all five categories was also calculated. Scores ranged from 0 to 200 and can be interpreted as follows:
- < 50 = extremely low confidence
- 50 to 69 = very low confidence
- 70 to 89 = low confidence
- 90 to 110 = an ambivalent score (neutral)
- 111 to 130 = high confidence
- 131 to 150 = very high confidence
- > 150 = extremely high confidence
The lowest scores were found in the MICI component gauging whether administrators and directors thought they would grow in diagnostic and interventional radiology, with a score of just 59. They were also pessimistic about having access to capital for imaging equipment and IT needs, with a score of 65. And the question as to whether their sites would grow as profit centers only scored 76.
Ironically, the second-highest score -- 80 -- was given to the question as to whether administrators and directors thought they would receive adequate Medicare reimbursement. This topic has historically been scored the lowest in previous MICI polls.
|MICI scores by topic for Q2 2020|
|Internal operating and staff costs will remain constant||84||Low confidence|
|Will receive adequate reimbursement from Medicare for diagnostic and interventional imaging||80||Low confidence|
|Will maintain/grow as a profit center||76||Very low confidence|
|Will have access to capital for imaging equipment and IT needs||65||Very low confidence|
|Will grow monthly in diagnostic and interventional radiology||59||Very low confidence|
|Composite score across all areas||72||Low confidence|
MICI scores for the second quarter of 2020 and their relationship to the previous eight quarters are shown in the following chart.
In the free-response section of the survey, some MICI panelists conveyed the severity of the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"COVID-19 will have a distinct impact on imaging and will (has already) impacted imaging procedures and crippled our ability to even consider growth," the respondent said. "We are, instead, in survival mode."
Another noted that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on volume and is eating up money reserved for capital; all capital spending is on hold until further notice, the respondent noted. Another respondent noted that over the longer term, volumes will be affected by the fact that individuals who have lost their jobs and their health insurance.