Radiology admins worry about staff costs in new MICI numbers

2022 09 23 21 47 0126 2022 09 26 Mici S2 Chart 20220923215120

Radiology administrators are struggling to cope with rising staff costs and personnel shortages as they also try to manage a variety of financial pressures, according to the latest numbers from the Medical Imaging Confidence Index (MICI).

Administrators and business managers are getting squeezed between rising procedure volume, dropping reimbursement, and a shortage of personnel like radiologic technologists that is forcing them to spend more time on recruitment and pay higher rates to staffing agencies.

"Although we see our volumes continue to grow our expenses, (staffing costs in particular) continue to outgrow revenue," one MICI respondent said. "This limits our ability to grow and access capital dollars."

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.

The 2022 second-semester data covers the period from April to September. The index included 145 participants from across the U.S., with 12% based in the mid-Atlantic region, 14% in the South Atlantic region, 16% in the East South Central region, 8% in the East North Central region, 16% in the West North Central region, 14% in the West South Central region, 7% in the Mountain region, and 12% 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
MICI scores by topic for second semester of 2022
Topic Mean score Interpretation
Will grow monthly in diagnostic and interventional radiology 130 High confidence
Will maintain/grow as a profit center 126 High confidence
Will have access to capital for imaging equipment and IT needs 94 Neutral
Will receive adequate reimbursement from Medicare for diagnostic and interventional imaging 92 Low confidence
Internal operating and staff costs will remain constant 84 Low confidence
Composite score across all areas 104 Neutral

MICI scores for the second semester of 2022 and their relationship to the previous eight periods are shown in the following chart.

2022 09 23 21 47 0126 2022 09 26 Mici S2 Chart

In the free-response section of the survey, respondents further elucidated on their concerns about staffing costs.

"Incredibly short-staffed," one respondent noted. "Will need agency staff to help cover, which will result in increased costs. Will also need to [close] rooms down because we don't have enough techs to staff."

Other MICI respondents confirmed that rising costs are resulting from the personnel shortage.

"Staff is extremely hard to come by," one administrator stated. "We are at bare minimums. There are no applications coming in for the open [jobs] that we have. Traveling techs are getting sky-high rates."

The Medical Imaging Confidence Index (MICI) is a joint research collaboration between AHRA, the association for medical imaging management, and market research firm the MarkeTech Group.

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