Nuclear stress testing is arguably the number one diagnostic for many if not a majority of cardiology practices including capitated models which want to use the modality but must tightly control costs per patient. For being such a critical reference tool, current reimbursement cuts have negatively and severely impacted Doctors’ ability to utilize it effectively. Research shows that facilities’ cost per cardiac stress test ranges between $300 – $600, depending on the practice, with the average cardiologist performing about 800 tests annually. With reimbursements for these tests set at their lowest levels in history (current Medicare rates are $400 – $750 depending upon region), in many cases, the practice will actually endure a financial loss each study.
In an effort to assist physician practices and hospitals respond to the recent cuts, Simplified Imaging & Diagnostic Solutions (SIS) in conjunction with select cosponsors (dates and locations available at http://nuclearStressTest.net) has initiated project “Awareness and Education.” What Cardiologists currently need, above all else, are solutions for reducing costs associated with their nuclear labs, which has not only been their most useful diagnostic – but also their largest revenue producer. “Controlling costs, was once an optional, “nice to do,” but overnight has gone to a “must do-in order to stay in business,” for many practices nationwide, says SIS CEO Avital Soffer, whose company for the past 15 years has specialized in reducing costs and increasing revenues for physician practices and hospitals offering nuclear imaging services. “SIS is determined to bring about transparency and urgent relief to practitioners within this area of the industry,” states Soffer. The saving grace is that most stress test labs and practices are rife with inefficiencies and other issues, leaving plenty of room for dramatic cost reductions. Stress testing has been the gold standard for detecting heart disease for 20-something years. “It’s a proven life saver and we must do something to assist practices during this time of need and uncertainty. With rate cuts of over 36%, we are inundated with calls from practices in distress explaining that they will be forced into ordering less testing should conditions not improve. If costs remain at the levels which they are now, there will be significant, negative affects to both the practitioner as well as to the patient who may not be able to receive the diagnostic. Ultimately, patient care could be impacted and that is not only unacceptable but also completely unnecessary, “explains Soffer.
SIS launched “Awareness and Education,” in direct response to the crisis and specifically to bring about awareness to practices nationwide that there are in fact solutions available for reducing testing costs, as well as to best educate them on how to urgently go about doing so. Utilizing a proprietary calculator, and a 52-point analysis of equipment, expenses, staffing and scheduling, the project offers a free practice assessment (www.nuclearstresstest.net – click on “Free Assessment) for practices which are currently or wish to begin offering testing. Then, with the implementation and review of procedures, training of personnel, tech pay, isotope costs, ICANL certification, physicists, licensing, and other efficiency methods, a practice will be shown how to immediately cut facilities’ operating costs by 25 percent, and in many cases up to 40 percent. Also included in the campaign will be symposiums for doctors and administrators looking for methods on reducing testing costs. SIS currently has relationships with several of the big names in gamma cameras whose sales have suffered as a result of the cuts, including Siemens whom has recently inquired about an exclusive relationship with SIS.”
While the OEM’s represent the “razor” component of nuclear stress testing, it is the “razor blade” component – or the ongoing testing which must be the focus on being made more affordable. The end goal is for practices and hospitals to be able to more readily and cost effectively order necessary testing for those in need. ” “Essentially,” says Soffer, “the headaches of lab operations will be greatly reduced while simultaneously testing costs significantly lowered, resulting in a win-win scenario for everybody, including the practice, the patient and the industry at large.”