Advancing the Business of Radiology
The leading professional organization for radiology business management professionals in any radiology setting.
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Welcome, Leaders!

As a practice leader, you have come to the right place for radiology business professionals who are dedicated to supporting and enhancing their vocation, investing in their career and pursuing higher goals. You have the respect of your physicians to help guide, develop and maintain a practice/department and you strive to advance the profession and improve the business of healthcare.

RBMA is the place to turn for inspiration, resources and practical tools you can’t find anywhere else.

Leaders
“The RBMA provides critical information through expertise and dedication to the field of radiology business. Being a member of RBMA as an administrator has provided me with the most up to date information and networking opportunities to assist me in performing at the highest level.”

More Resources For Practice Leaders:

Resources For Leaders

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Welcome, Radiology Business Managers!

As a manager you have come to the right place for information and resources that will assist you in coding properly and obtaining the best possible reimbursement for your practice.

RBMA connects radiology business managers with resources and practical tools to help you succeed.

Manager
“I have been in the radiology business for 34 years and have seen many changes. One of the best changes is how the RBMA has grown and provides us with the necessary tools that we need in order to help us continue on this rocky road.”

More Resources For Managers:

Conference Audio Recording

Articles

Resources For Managers

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RBMA U

Enroll in RBMA U’s Radiology Business 101 – an overview program covering the basics of radiology business as defined under the RBMA Common Body of Knowledge.

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DataMAXX

RBMA’s innovative new practice analytic solution that takes benchmarking to new levels through the combination of your practice’s information and state-of-the art technology and data query protocols.

 

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Welcome, Coders!

As a coder, you have come to the right place for for information and resources that will assist you in coding properly and obtaining the best possible reimbursement for your practice.

RBMA connects coders with resources and practical tools to help you succeed.

“RBMA membership offerings, either the list serve or conference attendance, has provided up to date trends in coding, payor policy and practice management issues. The topics discussed through the list serve either coding or practice management has helped my practice be proactive.”

More Resources For Practice Coders:

Resources For Coders

Ladies

Prepare for tomorrow. Order your ICD-10-CM Toolkit today.
The IDC-10-CM Toolkit designed by Coding Strategies (CSI) and Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) gives the busy radiology administrator all of the tools needed to prepare the practice for the implementation of ICD-10.

Libman Education
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Welcome, Marketers!

As a marketer, you have come to the right place for information on the state of imaging today and how to effectively market your radiology practice by incorporating tools and strategies including social media and today’s technological innovations.

RBMA is the place to turn for inspiration, resources and practical tools you can’t find anywhere else.

“The RBMA Marketing Conference is a great way to network with colleagues from around the country to gain different ideas and perspectives without the threat of direct competition.”

More Resources For Practice Marketers:

Order your Marketing Toolkit today.

A toolkit designed specifically for radiology marketing, includes samples forms and ideas.

Click here to preview Table of Contents.

Resources For Marketers

5 Steps to Effective Social Media Measurement
If you’re going to invest time in social media, you need to measure performance, but it can be difficult to identify relevant metrics.

How to Generate Compelling Content Ideas for Your Online Customer or Member Community [Infographic]
Are you looking for content to fulfill your new content marketing strategy, but don’t know where to start? Try these 10 great content ideas – plus a bonus idea – to jump start or breathe new life into your efforts.

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Welcome, Vendors!

As a vendor offering radiology products and services you have come to the right place to find your target audience. RBMA attracts decision-makers with buying power.

RBMA members rely on vendors to keep them informed of new technologies, developments, and products for their practices.

“RBMA provides the foundation for connecting with the right people. We appreciate the opportunity to visit with our existing clients as well as meet new prospective clients.”

More Resources For Practice Vendors:

Resources For Vendors

Start planning your 2014 marketing program with RBMA today! Consider a Global Level Sponsorship. Contact daphne.gawronhski@rbma.org for details.

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Repealing Device Tax Remains Top Priority for MITA

(Vendor) Permanent link

In November, the Medical Imaging Technology Alliance (MITA) published a special insert in the National Electrical Manufacturers Association magazine Electro Industry. In the introduction to the insert, Nelson Mendes, CEO of Ziehm Imaging and chair of the MITA Board of Directors described MITA’s six strategic priorities. First among them is repealing the medical device tax.

The tax was instituted as part of the 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a way to help pay for the expansion of health insurance coverage through federal subsidies. The argument for taxing the medical device industry was that the influx of newly insured patients would allow providers to make strategic investments like upgrading their diagnostic imaging devices and adding more capacity through new equipment and device purchases. However, with continuing reimbursement uncertainty and the move toward value-based payments, health care providers have not been in a position to make the types of large investments in imaging equipment the law seemed to promise. In addition, the tax is on sales, not income, so even companies that did not make a profit must pay the tax.

With bi-partisan support, a two-year suspension of the 2.3 percent tax was passed as part of a larger spending package in December of 2015. The medical device industry now has one year left to get a permanent repeal passed through Congress.

MITA estimates that the tax takes about $29 billion out of the medical device industry that otherwise could be put toward research and development, as well as creating more jobs. The Congressional Research Service, a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, has concluded that the tax has a fairly minor effect on employment, despite industry claims that 195,000 jobs could be lost in the United States due to the tax. However, its analysis does call the tax difficult to justify because it is an excise tax (i.e., a tax on sales). Excise taxes are normally put in place to discourage a behavior – think cigarette taxes to discourage smoking – or to fund a public good with a very direct link to the product sold, like road maintenance being paid for in part with gasoline sales taxes. However, the device tax is not meant to discourage radiology practices from buying new equipment and there is no strong connection between device sales and health insurance expansion.

With Congress gearing up for a busy session come 2017, will MITA and its allies be strong enough to make the suspension permanent? A republican Congress and president should help, but the industry will still need to work effectively as one and not take a repeal for granted. Mendes, for one, is hopeful.

“Every day brings new advances in technology, innovation in patient care, and challenges unforeseen,” he wrote. “Our companies know that there is nothing that we can’t accomplish by working together through MITA. 


Is 2017 the Year for Video Marketing?

(Marketing) Permanent link

Online marketing firm Syndacast estimates that 74 percent of all Internet traffic in 2017 will be video. Technology giant Cisco is a bit more conservative but still puts its estimate at 69 percent.

Marketers know that video is a big trend, but doing it well was traditionally outside of the budget of health care organizations. In addition, the conventional wisdom was that the complexity of marketing a health care service lent itself better to print campaigns than video.

However, with digital video production lowering the cost of video marketing and new low-cost avenues for sharing video besides purchasing television ads (such as social media platforms), more practices are looking at it. This year, Jefferson Radiology in Hartford, Connecticut, won an RBMA Quest Award for its mammography marketing video campaign that cost under $5,000. The campaign reached more than 50,000 viewers and easily exceeded its goal of scheduling 22 additional mammograms to break even.

Some pro tips to get you started if you are evaluating video.

  1. Have a very clear idea of what exactly your marketing objective is. Kim Kelley, FRBMA, principal and creative director of Ali`i Marketing & Design, regularly repeats in her RBMA meeting presentations and RBMA Bulletin articles the importance of detailed planning up front. In her latest RBMA Bulletin column, she notes that “video ads should still be extremely specific, engaging from the very first second, cognizant of length and attention spans, and targeted to your specific demographic and geographic audience location.”
  2. Use your own people rather than actors. Not only will this keep costs down, but in health care, prospective patients appreciate seeing the physicians, nurses and technicians that may actually be caring for them.
  3. Find a videographer willing to work with your budget. With digital video and editing, a small company or even a single freelancer can produce a very professional final product, but you do need someone with expertise and the right equipment for lighting, recording the video and editing it.
  4. If you can, shoot more than you need. Extra video content can be turned into short interviews for sharing through social media and give you more bang for your buck.
  5. Look for partnerships. Your local hospital may want help marketing itself and radiology offers the opportunity to showcase technology with an undeniable wow factor. Or alternatively, your local television affiliate may be looking for health experts, especially during October breast cancer awareness month. A partnership with the local Hartford CBS affiliate, WFSB-TV, helped Jefferson Radiology keep the cost of its campaign low. 

MPFS Delays Implementation of Three New Mammography Codes

(Coding) Permanent link

When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, it included three new mammography codes that would bundle mammography with computer aided detection (CAD). In the final rule, the adoption of these new bundled codes is being delayed for a year.

The proposed CPT codes 77065 (unilateral diagnostic mammography with CAD), 77066 (bilateral diagnostic mammography with CAD) and 77067 (screening mammography with CAD), were structured similar to the existing codes without CAD and are parallel in nature to the existing G-codes G0202, G0204 and G0206. CMS explained that it needed to delay the implementation because its claims processing systems will not be ready to accept the new codes on January 1, 2017. Instead, CMS will operationalize the new coding rules for mammography using the G-codes for one year before adopting the actual new codes on January 1, 2018.

Mammography with CAD is a closely watched area of coding because mammography payment rates were set in a somewhat different manner than the traditional analysis of procedure cost inputs by the Relative Value Unit Update Committee (RUC). When the mammography codes were reanalyzed as part of the bundling of mammography with CAD and the adoption of digital imaging (not film) practice inputs, the result was a drastically reduced reimbursement rate for mammography. The technical component for these mammography services could be reduced by as much as 50 percent, according to the American College of Radiology’s analysis.  

Not wanting to disrupt Medicare patient access to mammography, CMS has been seeking comments and information from the radiology field. For example, the ACR has already provided practice invoices for costs of 17 different kinds of equipment used in furnishing mammography.

While this is going on, CMS is using a bit of bureaucratic slight of hand to ensure the new codes and the cuts do not arrive at the same time. Instead of using the RUC recommended work RVUs, CMS has proposed to crosswalk the practice expense RVUs for the technical component of the current corresponding G-codes. In addition, CMS says it will follow the mandated RVU phase-in policy for significant reduction in RVUs (greater than 20 percent). Under this rule, a large reduction like a 50 percent cuts is made in stages over several years.

The RBMA Federal Affairs Committee and other member volunteers are working with the RBMA leadership to provide a detailed summary of the full final MPFS rule, as well as the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) final rule. RBMA members may sign up for the RBMA Practice Management forum and Coding forum to ensure access to the latest updates.

Other resources include the CMS Press Release and the ACR Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule for Calendar Year 2017 Detailed Summary of the Payment Provisions


Increase in Harassment Rates Underscores Importance of Strong Practice Anti-Discrimination Policies

(Management) Permanent link

The 2016 election has been one of the most divisive in recent history and the political rhetoric has stirred fear and anger. Between Wednesday, November 9, the day after the presidential election, and the morning of Monday, November 14, the Southern Poverty Law Center collected 437 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment. Among these, 76 occurred in businesses, creating a good reminder that part of managing any business, including a radiology practice, is considering how to respond if intimidation or harassment occurs at the workplace you manage. 

Under state and federal laws, employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe work environment free from discrimination. Failing to do so can be costly. In a Thompson Reuter’s study of 446 closed claims reported by businesses with fewer than 500 employees, nearly one in five employment charges resulted in defense and settlement costs averaging a total of $125,000.

Companies do carry insurance for such situations, but even with insurance, the deductible for the company was $35,000 on average. In addition, a practice needs to consider the ongoing costs to the organization as a case like this drags on. Most of the matters in the study took an average of 275 days to resolve, pulling time, resources and attention away from the organizations involved.

Frustratingly for practice managers and owners, there is no way to ensure one employee or physician does not make discriminatory statements toward another employee or physician. Nor can one ensure patients and business partners (including referring physicians) will always be kind, respectful and professional toward your own employees and staff. But you can prepare. Here are a few tips from H.R. consulting companies:

  • Have strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and procedures in place ahead of time. Acting to address discrimination and harassment through policy after an incident has occurred is too late.
  • Although you may have the best staff and physicians in the world, never assume discrimination and harassment cannot happen in your practice.
  • Train everybody on the rules and expectations for professional behavior in your practice, as well as consequences for violating the rules for professional behavior.
  • Periodically have a lawyer with training in employment law help review and update all your H.R. policies, including those covering harassment and discrimination.
  • Lead by example. People take cues for how to behave from the people around them. If managers model the type of behavior they would like to see from others, it will help encourage that type of behavior.
  • Consider possible outside sources of hate and harassment, and how your practice should respond if one of your own people is threatened by a business partner, referring physician, patient or patient family member. Ask staff/physicians if they need any resources from you, such as guidance on what to say or do if such an incident occurs and when to contact law enforcement. 

ACA Repeal is Not the End of Value-Based Medicine

(Leadership) Permanent link

With the election of Donald Trump as president, the Republican party holds both houses of congress and the executive branch. Considering that Congress has voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 62 times, it is reasonable to expect that repealing the law will be one of the first priorities of the 115th Congress and the new president.

However, although the president-elect on the campaign trail promised to repeal Obamacare on day one of his administration, the reality is that dismantling the act in a way that is not politically costly could take time. Donald Trump signaled as much after the election. In an interview with “60 Minutes,” he amended his position to say that he does not want to get rid of the strong parts of the ACA that he sees as working and will not repeal it until a replacement law is ready.

So what exactly should radiology leaders expect? According to a post election-analysis by Oliver Wyman management consultants, the emphasis on being efficient and delivering value to patients and payors will become even more important in an era of increasing reimbursement uncertainty. If the ACA’s individual mandate (the rule that requires everyone to buy insurance) is repealed and federal subsidies that help people buy insurance on the marketplaces or access state Medicaid programs are eliminated, the rates of uninsured patients could return to the levels seen before the ACA was passed.

More uncompensated care may be particularly bad news for hospitals, and they will want radiologist help in winning market share with commercial payors to help make up for loses from caring for the uninsured. They know that commercial payors will want to work with providers who can demonstrate that they are more efficient and deliver better value. This will mean a continuing emphasis on delivering the type of performance metrics that the commercial payors believe translate into value.

“Providers should embrace the need to move toward a value-based model,” the Oliver Wyman analysis says. Radiology practices should therefore not hope for a temporary relaxing or reprieve from the past several year’s strong pressure on radiology to prove its value (especially in a capitated model) and the drive toward consolidating practices into health systems that can deliver population-health level data.

In addition, the analysis predicts that the strong pressure for price transparency will continue for all providers. The Trump-Pence Campaign Healthcare Position Statement promises that the new administration will require price transparency from all healthcare providers. Although it does not say how the administration would implement such a federal mandate, it does signal that the already strong pressure toward providing pricing transparency will continue.

Finally, as another sign that value-based medicine is here to stay, the President-elect and Congressional Republicans have said little if anything about their plans for the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) that rolls current incentive programs together into the Medicare Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and the Alternative Payment Models (APMs) in 2017. To learn more about MACRA and value-based medicine, read “MACRA Update” in the current issue of the September/October issue of the RBMA Bulletin. (RBMA member log-in required. To sign up for RBMA membership, click here.)


Merge Healthcare Offers View on Future of IT and Practice Analytics

(Vendor) Permanent link

Healthcare information technology has evolved at a rapid pace over the past 15 years, and Shannon Marshall, solutions manager at Merge Healthcare, an IBM company, has had a front-row seat observing this remarkable transformation. In the latest issue of the RBMA Bulletin magazine, Marshall shared her thoughts on what is happening now in IT and what lies ahead in the future.

According to Marshall, the current trend is the focus on adding more data analytics to software. “Analytics is really telling the story of a business,” she says. “It is about understanding how and why your business is performing a certain way, not just what the end results are. It’s exciting to realize that while analytics really only became a major buzzword in 2011, healthcare has made incredible progress in just five years—and is now at a comparable level to other complex industries.”

As an extremely data-driven company, Merge’s focus on analytics is very much about how to make data meaningful and actionable for its customers, Marshall explains in the magazine. Different groups will have different needs, and the beauty of analytics is how they can be tailored to answer the specific questions of the user, whether that user is a PACS administrator, a PACS user, a scheduler, a biller, a CFO or a CEO.

“At Merge, when we think about analytics, we really break it down to the piece of the business that is particular to that product, but we also use the data that is fed into those products for comprehensive overviews and real-time business tracking,” she says. “The moment data is entered, it is electronically sent to Merge Dashboards™ to provide real-time overviews and reporting capabilities that span the entire enterprise.”

Marshall also discusses the Watson Health medical imaging collaborative that IBM announce in June. “To have a dramatic impact on healthcare, it is imperative that providers and vendors come together to drive with a common vision,” she says. “As we have in the past, Merge will strive to deliver products that improve physician efficacy and patient outcomes. This work aligns with Watson Health’s aim to serve as a catalyst to help improve lives of people around the world, and help lower healthcare costs through the power of cognitive insights.”

To read the full interview with Marshall, please see the RBMA Bulletin article. Member login required.

 


How Marketers Can Help the Patient Centered Radiology Effort

(Marketing) Permanent link

“It will be hard to put the patient in the center of healthcare, if we are standing there ourselves,” says Jim Rawson, M.D., chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Patient and Family Centered Care, and radiologists are getting the message. Most are intrinsically motivated to do the right thing for their patients, but it is very hard to switch world views when radiologists have spent their whole careers as the revenue generators at the center of every imaging practice.

At the RBMA Fall Educational Conference in New Orleans, Jennifer L. Kemp, M.D., FACR, of Diversified Radiology of Colorado, updated attendees on what is happening with the work of the Radiological Society of North America Radiology Cares campaign. Her assessment from looking at surveys of radiologists was that the vast majority of radiologists want to practice in a more patient-centered manner. However, they simply do not know how and are struggling with barriers like lack of time and resources. 

This is an issue radiology marketers could really help with. While the patient-centered radiology effort is being led by physicians, marketers have deep knowledge and experience in looking at practices from the perspective of the patient and coming up with ideas for how to make the patient experience better. They know how to explain concepts in easy-to-grasp common language and can help doctors communicate more effectively. They are creative and can think up ideas for operational changes that will appeal directly to patients. Most of all, they know how to amplify a message using multiple possible communication vehicles so that radiologists can communicate more with less time and effort. 

Kemp also pointed conference attendees to the customizable flyers and letters the Radiology Cares campaign has made available on the RSNA Practice Resources webpage and to the patient education materials at radiologyinfo.com. This is a perfect place for radiology marketers to jump in and help their physicians create versions customized for their practice. Although Kemp encouraged attendees to not “let the perfect be the enemy of the good” when it comes to improving the patient experience, it is undeniable that radiologists want their practices to look great to their patients and referral sources.  If they can’t get their message in a form they are comfortable sharing, they will hesitate to pass that along that message to patients or referrals sources. 

Other marketing-type ideas Kemp shared included patient postcards and waiting-room internet access as well as more expensive changes like patient valet parking that marketers could team with their radiologists to research and possibly implement. To learn more about the Radiology Cares effort, visit http://www.rsna.org/radiology_cares/.


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