Predictions on the future of payments for ultrasonic guidance — 6 insights from ABC's Tony Mira

Anesthesia Business Consultants President and CEO Tony Mira penned a blog post issuing his predictions on the future of ultrasonic guidance payments.

Here's what you should know:

1. Ultrasonic guidance is a standard of care for most anesthesia practices. The use of such guidance increased drastically over the last few years. That same increase lowered the procedure's reimbursement.

2. Over time, both USG for needle placement and USG for vascular access use have increased, and thus far, USG procedures have been reimbursed as separately payable services. For example, a physician performing an interscalene block with USG would be reimbursed for the block and for USG separately in the current reimbursement environment.

3. Mr. Mira believes USG will follow a similar pathway to that of fluoroscopy-use in chronic pain. Over the past five years, CMS adjusted fluoroscopy to bundle it with all common chronic pain procedures.

In new spinal injection codes, CMS developed two separate codes — one indicating USG was used and the other indicating against it.

4. Despite requiring a reason why a provider used USG, claims and rates are being paid and have remained consistent since 2012.

5. However, over the last five years, overall payments decreased from $59.92 to $55.94 for USG for needle placement and from $22.43 to $21.03 for USG for vascular access.

6. Mr. Mira concludes recent trends indicate USG will be bundled into most commonly used nerve blocks diminishing its price further.

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