MICI survey finds low confidence in Medicare payment rates

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Although radiology administrators are confident that over the next six months their facilities will grow in procedure volume and as a profit center, they're not so sure they'll receive adequate reimbursement from Medicare for these services, according to new results from the Medical Imaging Confidence Index (MICI).

The MICI survey, which is produced by the MarkeTech Group and AHRA, found that for the period of January to June 2012, survey participants expressed "very low confidence" that Medicare reimbursements will be sufficient.

For the survey period, 160 imaging directors and managers of hospitals completed a Web survey regarding their perception of medical imaging trends. Of the facilities represented in the survey, 46% were hospitals with fewer than 100 beds, 35% had between 100 and 299 beds, and 19% had 300 or more beds, the report stated.

Survey participants were culled from across the U.S., with 12% in the Pacific region, 9% in the Mountain region, 11% in the West North Central region, 19% in the East North Central region, 11% in the Mid-Atlantic region, 15% in the South Atlantic region, 9% in the East South Central region, and 14% in the West South Central region.

Participants were asked to rate their optimism about five topics. Scores range 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

Results for the five topics are shown below:

Medical Imaging Confidence Index survey

The MICI panel is a longitudinal cohort that consists of members of MarkeTech's ImagePro professional community, from which it culls radiology administrators to participate in studies; members come from around the U.S. and represent different hospital sizes and geographic locations, according to the company. The same members are queried with each survey round to ensure consistency of the results over time.

Results reflect national trends because participants are recruited by region and number of beds to reflect known American Hospital Association incidence. Once the final counts are confirmed, MarkeTech performs statistical weighting to ensure the index reflects the U.S. hospital imaging market, the firm said.

Imaging will continue as a profit center as long as resources are well-managed, said Luann Culbreth, president of AHRA.

"Medical imaging managers continue to be relatively optimistic about the near future of their operations," Culbreth wrote in an email to AuntMinnie.com. "Patient volumes are expected to remain constant and, despite the expectation of decreasing reimbursements, imaging will remain a significant profit center. [But] the only way this can happen is with the expert use of resources, and the role of a competent imaging management professional will become more critical than ever."

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