BC TECHNICAL SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH HEALTHTRUST
-TO PROVIDE REFURBISHED MEDICAL IMAGING EQUIPMENT
West Jordan, Utah—January 21, 2014—BC Technical, a leading non-OEM medical imaging solutions provider, announced today that it has been selected by HealthTrust as a provider for refurbished medical imaging equipment for the 1,400 acute care facilities that are part of the HealthTrust membership.
ÂNo one has found the worth of the ruby of the heart; its value cannot be estimated.Â
A research study developed in November of 2012 by the Indiana University School of Medicine showed that out of 307 people who had undergone outpatient CT scans at the university hospital, an astounding 67% of them hardly had a clue as to what radiologists actually do. This is not necessarily the patientsÂ fault, however. Not many radiologists actually interact with the people that are being scanned. Most radiologists spend their time in reading rooms, studying and interpreting images; striving to come up with the best solutions for their findings. Meanwhile, the patients are interacting with physicians and doctors, not the actual individual who has dissected each image and is the most familiar with the results of a scan.
While both the PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and the CT (Computed Tomography) imaging scanners identify abnormalities in organs of the body and have 3D imaging capabilities, they still reveal and compile very different information. Check out the differences between the PET and the CT imaging scanners:
A PET scanner captures images of bodily organs by using a camera and a liquid tracker - It shows molecular function and activity. For the process to work, a liquid tracker (usually known as a Tracer), is injected into a vein. That tracer then swarms to the cells within the body that are collecting the most energy (which is usually a sign of disease or cancer). The tracer then creates positrons. These positively charged particles are captured by the camera and data is collected. PET scans are capable of revealing many outcomes. They help doctors evaluate cancer, see if the disease has spread and determine what the best treatments are. They can detect damaged heart tissue and determine whether there is pour blood flow to the heart. PET systems also help doctors study the brain, the blood flow to the brain and any changes the brain has gone through. Even problems with the nervous system can be detected with a PET scan.
The following commentary explains some important changes with the CMS decision on PET scan reimbursements:
Due to life-saving technological advances and new applications of existing technology, medical imaging experienced a marked increase in utilization and spending from 2001 to 2005. Imaging became central to good medical practicedecreasing the need for invasive surgical procedures and delays in diagnosis. Better computer technology and breakthroughs in clinical applications enabled doctors to better target many treatments and eliminate others that became unnecessary. Among these technologies are PET and CT scans.
The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA)
Despite the advances in technology, Medicare reimbursements for medical imaging services have been cut eight times since 2006. Per beneficiary spending on advanced imaging services (often singled out for payment cuts by federal policymakers) has declined by 27.6 percent. This decline does not line up with the perception among some policymakers that Medicare spending on imaging services is growing. In 2007, the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) reduced payments to imaging dramatically. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated $500 million in reimbursement cuts to medical imaging, but after implementation, the total was nearly $1.6 billion. Cuts are planned to continue through 2013.
In 2006, at its peak, imaging spending was 13 percent of Medicare carrier paid claims. However, in 2011 it dropped to only 9.3 percent. Medicare devoted a smaller portion of spending to imaging in 2011 than at any point in the last decade. The rate of imaging growth relative to the overall Medicare program was a key factor, cited by policymakers, in targeting medical imaging for reimbursement cuts in the past.
Medical Imaging Utilization
A year-over-year decrease began in 2010 for the utilization of all imaging technology services. This means Medicare beneficiaries received fewer scans per beneficiary than in the previous year. Despite new clinical applications of imaging technology and evidence of the role of imaging in reducing healthcare costs, this decline in Medicare beneficiaries use of medical imaging services has continued. The contrast between the proven value of imaging and its declining use raises serious concerns that further payment cuts may threaten access to appropriate medical imaging for many Medicare patients.
The decline can also be attributed to advancements in the education of physicians on appropriate imaging. As physicians use guidelines on imaging, they are better able to discuss the benefits and risks of imaging with patients and their families to make informed decisions about the best path forward.
Nuclear medicine specialists use safe, painless, and cost-effective techniques to image the body and treat disease. Nuclear medicine imaging is unique, because it provides doctors with information about both structure and function. It is a way to gather medical information that would otherwise be unavailable, require surgery, or necessitate more expensive diagnostic tests. Nuclear medicine imaging procedures often identify abnormalities very early in the progress of a disease long before many medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests. Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) to diagnose and treat disease. In imaging, the radiopharmaceuticals are detected by special types of cameras that work with computers to provide very precise pictures about the area of the body being imaged. In treatment, the radiopharmaceuticals go directly to the organ being treated.
What is PET?
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a major diagnostic imaging modality used in determining the presence and severity of cancers, neurological conditions, and cardiovascular disease. It is currently the most effective way to check for cancer recurrences. PET images demonstrate the chemistry of organs and other tissues such as tumors. A radiopharmaceutical, such as FDG fluorodeoxyglucose), which includes both sugar (glucose) and a radionuclide (a radioactive element) that gives off signals, is injected into the patient, and its emissions are measured by a PET scanner.
A nuclear medicine technologist is a highly skilled professional who performs nuclear medicine examinations using specialized equipment to produce high-quality images of structures inside the human body. After the examination, the technologist reviews the images and the patients history with a physician trained in the interpretation of nuclear medicine procedures that renders a final diagnosis. Both physicians and technologists are supported by specially trained physicists and pharmacists who ensure the reliability and quality of the instruments and safety of the radiopharmaceuticals used in the performance of nuclear medicine exams.
How do I know if I am receiving high-quality care?
Ask if your nuclear medicine technologist is certified. Certified technologists have demonstrated that they have specific training and experience to perform a nuclear medicine examination accurately. In order to maintain their certification, technologists are required to earn continuing medical education credits each year, which helps ensure that they are current with nuclear medicine technology and patient care skills. Ask if the nuclear medicine practice you are visiting is accredited. Practices that have obtained accreditation have demonstrated competency in every aspect of their operation, including the education and training of doctors and technologists, nuclear medicine equipment, document storage, policies safeguarding patients, and accuracy in diagnosis.
How safe are nuclear medicine procedures?
Nuclear medicine procedures are among the safest diagnostic imaging exams available. To obtain diagnostic information, a patient is given a very small amount of a radiopharmaceutical. Because such a small amount is used, the amount of radiation received from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable with that received during a diagnostic x-ray. The nuclear medicine team will carefully perform the most appropriate examination for the patients particular medical problem and thereby avoid any unnecessary radiation exposure.