CMS: Radiology practices could save almost $60M with new policies

Imaging centers will get a little bit of relief under a final rule issued by the Trump administration in a bid to ease regulatory burdens on healthcare providers.

CMS recently issued the sweeping new legislation as part of its Patients Over Paperwork initiative. The agency claimed these changes will save radiologists and other providers 4.4 million hours spent on paperwork and $800 million annually, according to a fact sheet.

For imaging professionals, CMS is removing four training and educational requirements related to portable x-ray services. Those focus on the accreditation of the school where technologists received their training and replaces them with more streamlined qualifications that focus on skills and abilities. CMS said that it is also allowing providers to request portable x-rays in writing, by telephone or electronically, easing the ordering process.

“In my trips across the country, I’ve heard time and again that unnecessary regulations are increasing costs on providers and they are losing time with patients as a result,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a prepared statement. “This final rule brings a common sense approach to reducing regulations and gives providers more time to care for their patients, while reducing administrative costs and improving health outcomes.”

According to the final rule, portable x-ray equipment operators now are only required to either successfully complete a formal training program on the technology or 24 full months of training and experience under the supervision of a certified doctor. Officials estimated that more than $31 million could be saved in the first year by hiring portable x-ray technologists with these lessened educational requirements.

CMS is retaining the requirement that portable x-ray orders must be accompanied by a statement explaining why images cannot be obtained in a more traditional setting. However, the agency is removing requirements that such orders need to be obtained in writing, allowing for telephone or electronic orders. Officials estimate this change could save the imaging practices about $27.7 million by eliminating time spent writing orders, printing costs, and follow-up calls.

You can read the full 103-page rule here. Changes are set to take effect on Nov. 29.