Hospitals outpace cardiology offices in use of cardiothoracic imaging

Hospital outpatient departments are performing more cardiothoracic imaging than cardiology offices, according to a study published Sept. 30 in Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging.

Researchers examined physician supplier procedure summary data from CMS for Medicare beneficiaries between 2010 and 2019. They found that in-office myocardial perfusion imaging rates for cardiologists decreased by 52 percent during that time period, while the imaging rates at hospital outpatient departments increased by 71 percent. Additionally, coronary computed tomography angiographies at hospital outpatient departments increased by 355 percent.

One exception to the trend was cardiac positron emission tomography rates, which increased in cardiology offices by 193 percent. Researchers cited technological advances, increased familiarity and financial incentives as reasons for the increase.

In a Sept. 30 news release, the Radiological Society of North America said these trends could stem from reimbursement cuts as a result of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which gave states more flexibility to change their Medicaid benefit packages.

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