Keeping up with the changing health care environment is not easy, but a panel discussion Tuesday will attempt to shed light on how interventional radiologists can navigate the waters. The session, “IR Economics: Delivering World Class Care in the New System,” will be held in Room 402 from 1–2:30 p.m.
“We’re trying to show people the economic environment of medicine is a very fluid and changeable environment, it’s not the way it was 20 years ago or 15 years ago,” said panel coordinator Gerald A. Niedzwiecki, MD, FSIR.
One discussion item, he said, will be an initiative called the Prep Task Force, which is an economic task force trying to predict how the society can prepare for economic changes anticipated to come about in the next three to four years.
The message from Washington, D.C, and from Medicare is that they don’t want to incentivize procedures over quality care, he said, so the task force is looking into these kinds of things to see how we can demonstrate the quality that interventional radiologists bring and why they should be involved in care, that they are efficient and cost-effective providers of care.
Physicians around the country are dealing with declining reimbursements, Dr. Niedzwiecki said, but some pressures differ from region to region. For instance, he said, managed care might affect doctors in the Midwest differently from practitioners in Florida or the Northeast.
“There is no cookie cutter or cookbook solution that will work for every individual,” he said, “but what we need to do is educate them about what pressures are out there and what are some of the options or alternatives that may be available to them to help with these.”
Some of the discussion will focus on different practice models that interventional radiologists can explore to forge alternative income streams to make up for decreased reimbursements.
One option, Dr. Niedzwiecki said, is replacing exclusive contracts with hospitals with a management services agreement with the facility. Those exclusive contracts are not necessarily exclusive, since other practitioners can perform IR-type procedures, he said, but they do saddle interventional radiologists with certain responsibilities.
A contract to provide services to the hospital might be out-of-the-box thinking now, Dr. Niedzwiecki said, but it might soon become the norm.
“We want to bring these things to the attention of the memberships that they may not have thought about,” he said, “so they can offset some losses in one place with gains in others.”
Panelists will also discuss the Medicare reimbursement system, explaining that the program reimburses less for services in office settings (as opposed to in the hospital) under the rationale that this is the most efficient setting.
Other topics to be covered, Dr. Niedzwiecki said, will be changes for this year in coding and reimbursement, including discussing new CPT codes.
Attendees will also hear an update about how things are shaping up on Capitol Hill, now that Republicans control Congress. One question will be how that affects the ongoing SGR debate.
“We are living in a very different time of health care delivery where we need to start challenging ourselves to think outside of our normal comfort zone and start exploring new ways of thinking,” Dr. Niedzwiecki said. “Unless we start thinking about that at a national level and a local level, we’re going to get left behind. We’re going to be chasing the bus instead of driving the bus.”