News | September 08, 2008

Imaging Center Relies on Merge Solutions to Offset Reimbursement Decline

September 9, 2008 - Merge Healthcare today announced that Metro Imaging, a St. Louis-area network of five freestanding centers, is among several imaging centers successfully using its RIS and PACS to help streamline operations in response to Medicare reimbursement declines associated with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
From 2006 to 2007, reimbursement dropped 10 percent across the board, and reimbursement for MRIs and CT scans declined 20 to 40 percent respectively, according to Christine M. Keefe, CFO of Metro Imaging. After making minor adjustments to its staffing and hours of operation, renegotiating service contracts and reducing preventive maintenance sessions, the organization realized it needed to increase volume.
"With our strong Merge RIS/PACS environment, we’ve identified opportunities to automate previously manual processes, enhance workflow and increase throughput without adding costs. The system is flexible enough to be customized for our needs, without requiring significant time or expense. We rely heavily on Merge RIS/PACS reporting to secure tangible measures that help improve service and work distribution," said Keefe. "We’ve done more monitoring of staff productivity than ever, from each individual transcriptionist to how many patients each person has scheduled and checked in. We know when to add staff and move people around."
To help drive volume, Metro Imaging implemented Onsite Results in June 2007. This program lets patients get preliminary results before leaving the imaging center. Metro believes they are the only center in the U.S. offering this type of program. After the first full year of the Onsite Results program, Metro Imaging was able to grow their volume by four percent, without adding any additional radiologists or technologists.
"Outpatient imaging is a highly competitive market area. We are constantly evaluating our physician referral base. The information we extract from our RIS/PACS allows us to target marketing efforts and monitor trends closely. We also monitor each site’s workload to evaluate when we need to expand or reduce exam hours, fine-tune staffing, etc. We monitor turnaround time, wait time, and dictation time to trouble-shoot potential bottlenecks. We truly use our Merge RIS/PACS to help manage our business. Our goal is to provide excellent quality and service and our system helps us meet that goal,” said Keefe.
Merge offers a white paper titled The Deficit Reduction Act – An Opportunity for Self Analysis at
For more information: www.

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