Over 150 Total Lots Up For Auction at One Location - CA 05/31

The bumpy road to imaging access in rural America

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | June 18, 2018
Mobile Imaging
From the June 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

For rural providers, though, access to any modality comes down to scheduling, with some able to afford services such as MR five days a week and others only a few times a month. Itineraries for these services depend on the needs of residents, many of whom are older, with conditions such as chronic vascular disease or diabetes, and are prone to infections and complications of conditions.

The challenges of rural access are further compounded by bigger financial trends, according to Larry Siebs, president of Shared Imaging, such as the rising price of mobile imaging and ongoing reductions in reimbursement.

DOTmed text ad

New Fully Configured 80-slice CT in 2 weeks with Software Upgrades for Life

For those who need to move fast and expand clinical capabilities -- and would love new equipment -- the uCT 550 Advance offers a new fully configured 80-slice CT in up to 2 weeks with routine maintenance and parts and Software Upgrades for Life™ included.


“The type of technology within the modality is not going to be looked at for the reimbursement decision,” said Siebs, whose company specializes in CT, MR, PET/CT and DR systems. “The question that rural hospitals struggle with for reimbursement is that, just like every other healthcare provider, they’re seeing declining reimbursement both from the government and from commercial payors. That’s part of the struggle they have when it comes to providing these services.”

A mobile CT technologist prepares a patient to be scanned.
Courtesy: Shared Imaging
In addition to reimbursements and cost, the number of underinsured and uninsured patients is higher in rural areas, preventing providers from funding these services and investing in lifesaving technologies.

“As the underinsured and uninsured grow, they put stress on the organization to be able to fund investments in new technologies or to maintain current ones,” said Brach Slabach, senior vice president of the National Rural Health Association.

Though Medicare can assist partially, the rest of the expense falls on the patient, with providers like Myers at Palo Pinto trying to find ways to help them pay off what they owe.

“Every cost they incur is going to come out of their pocket or at least partially out of their pocket,” he said. “We have to find cheaper ways to try and make medically relevant diagnoses so these patients can get proper treatment.”

Moving down the road
While professionals in others areas of the imaging landscape are buzzing about the potential capabilities of artificial intelligence to improve image interpretation, mobile imaging companies remain focused on ensuring the scans can be performed in the first place.

You Must Be Logged In To Post A Comment