AHRA survey: Most imaging providers have not upgraded all CR equipment

When the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 was signed into law, it included a provision that incentivized imaging providers to upgrade their remaining computed radiography (CR) equipment to digital radiography (DR). Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, payments for imaging studies performed on CR equipment would be reduced by 7 percent each year until 2022, when the reduction would jump to 10 percent.

According to a new survey of AHRA members, 71 percent of respondents said their facility has still not upgraded all of its CR equipment to DR. That numbers is down from 78 percent in 2017.

In addition, 53 percent of respondents estimated the cost of upgrading from CR equipment to DR as more than $150,000. Twenty-six percent estimated $50,000-100,000, 13 percent estimated $100,000-150,000 and just 8 percent estimated less than $50,000.

The survey also revealed that imaging professionals have been adding the CMS-required FY modifier to exams performed on CR equipment in different ways. While 39 percent of respondents still operating CR equipment said they are adding the modifier through the billing process, 28 percent said they have technologists applying the modifier. Thirteen percent answered that they “do not have a good process yet.”

Sheila M. Sferrella, MAS, RT(R), CRA, chair of the AHRA Regulatory Affairs Committee, wrote about the survey in Link, AHRA’s newsletter. She said that AHRA members still have questions about CMS’s CR/DR policies, including how to bill services performed on a combination of CR and DR.

“AHRA has asked for clarification from CMS 3 times in the last six months,” she wrote. “CMS tells us there will be clarification in the next quarterly update.”