News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | July 17, 2020

Radiology Practices Struggle to Survive Amid COVID-19

A new report from the RSNA COVID-19 Task Force addresses the impact of the epidemic on private radiology practices

A new report from the RSNA COVID-19 Task Force addresses the impact of the epidemic on private radiology practices

Getty Images

July 17, 2020 — Private radiology practices have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the steps they take to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their practice will shape the future of radiology, according to a special report from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) COVID-19 Task Force, published today in the journal Radiology.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in widespread disruption to the global economy. The resulting reduction in demand for imaging services had an abrupt and substantial impact on private radiology practices, which are heavily dependent on examination volumes for practice revenues. Examination volumes in radiology practices have decreased by 40%-90%. The volume reduction is anticipated to persist for anywhere from a few months to a few years.

Private practice radiologists make up a substantial proportion of the specialty, accounting for approximately 83% of all practicing radiologists in 2019.

The report describes specific experiences of radiologists working in various types of private practices during the initial peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and presents a detailed case study of a private radiology practice impacted by the pandemic. The authors outline factors determining the impact of the pandemic on private practices, the challenges practices have faced, and the financial adjustments made to mitigate losses.

“For many practices, caring for patients with COVID-19 increased the complexity of the financial impact,” said lead author Richard E. Sharpe Jr., M.D., M.B.A., senior associate consultant at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Volumes of advanced imaging, a higher reimbursement service for many practices, were reduced while low reimbursement services, such as radiography, often increased. At the same time, performing these low reimbursement services in ways that minimized the risk of virus transmission to staff and other patients increased the time and resources required to perform these services. These challenges were often most pronounced in private practices that included a hospital-based component to their practice, and which cared for COVID-19 patients with moderate and severe symptoms.”

In addition to financial burdens, tremendous variability in interpretations of state-level practice guidance existed, even in the early affected Seattle area. For example, some practices in Seattle maintained elective imaging appointments, while other groups only indicated plans to reschedule screening examinations. Still others requested that patients postpone all elective imaging. One group directed patients to reschedule only if they were symptomatic for coronavirus.

In the report, Sharpe, along with coauthors Brian S. Kuszyk, M.D., and Mahmud Mossa-Basha, M.D., lay out strategic efforts that practices are making to their mid- and long-term plans to pivot for long-term success while managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private radiology practices have crafted tiered strategies to respond to the impact of the pandemic by pulling various cost levers to adjust service availability, staffing, compensation, benefits, time off and expense reductions. In addition, they have sought additional revenues, within the boundaries of their practice, to mitigate ongoing financial losses.

Some practices may opt to adjust employed physician contracts to better mitigate practice risk from potential future volume disruptions. Base salary may comprise a smaller portion of overall compensation, with the balance dependent on the overall financial performance of the organization and/or individual productivity.

The longer-term impact of the pandemic will alter existing practices, making some of them more likely to succeed in the years ahead.

Some groups may prove unable to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially fueling trends either toward consolidation into larger radiology groups or toward increased employment by hospitals.

“We anticipate that small radiology practices may be at greatest risk for consolidation with larger radiology groups that have a more diversified practice model regarding inpatient-outpatient mix, subspecialty service lines, and geography,” said Kuszyk, president of Eastern Radiologists in Greenville, North Carolina.

For more information: www.rsna.org

Related Content on COVID's Impact on Radiology:

Imaging Volumes Continue to Improve Post COVID-19 Closures

Insight on the Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Imaging

The Continued Impact of COVID-19 on the Imaging Industry

Related Coronavirus Content:

VIDEO: Imaging COVID-19 With Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS)

Cardiac Imaging Best Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic

RSNA Publishes COVID-19 Best Practices for Radiology Departments

ASE Guidelines for the Protection of Echocardiography Providers During the COVID-19 Outbreak
New CT Scoring Criteria for Timely Diagnosis, Treatment of Coronavirus Disease

FDA Issues New Policy for Imaging Systems During COVID-19

VIDEO: COVID-19 Precautions for Cardiac Imaging —  Interview with Stephen Bloom, M.D.

A Review of Studies Cautions Against Chest CT for Coronavirus Diagnosis

New Research Finds Chest X-ray Not Reliable Diagnostic Tool for COVID-19

VIDEO: Radiology Industry Responding to COVID-19

University of Washington Issues Radiology Policies for COVID-19

VIDEO: Best Practices for Nuclear Cardiology During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Interview with Hicham Skali, M.D.

New Research Highlights Blood Clot Dangers of COVID-19

Survey Reveals Most Medical Practices are Now Using Telehealth Due to COVID-19

CMS Offers Recommendations on Reopening Healthcare in Areas of Low COVID-19 Cases

CT Provides Best Diagnosis for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Radiology Lessons for Coronavirus From the SARS and MERS Epidemics

Radiologists Describe Coronavirus CT Imaging Features

CT Imaging of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Pneumonia

ACC COVID-19 recommendations for the cardiovascular care team

VIDEO: What Cardiologists Need to Know about COVID-19 — Interview with Thomas Maddox, M.D.

The Cardiac Implications of Novel Coronavirus

Related Content

MRI of Nonferromagnetic Ballistics Suspended in Gelatin. 

MRI of Nonferromagnetic Ballistics Suspended in Gelatin. Scout (A), T1-weighted spin-echo (SE) (B), T2-weighted SE (C), T2-weighted gradient-recalled echo (GRE) (TR/TE, 500/10; D), and T2-weighted GRE (TR/TE, 700/30; E) MR images show jacket hollow point .45 automatic Colt pistol bullet (Corbon) (1), solid lead .45 Long Colt bullet (Winchester) (2), full metal jacket (FMJ) automatic Colt pistol bullet (Winchester) (3), 5.56-mm FMJ bullet (Federal Ammunition) (4), #7 lead shotgun pellet (Winchester) (5), and 5-mm lead air gun pellet (Sheridan) (6). On all sequences, metallic artifact is minimal. Although metallic artifact increases or blooms with increased TR/TE in GRE images (D and E), amount of surrounding distortion is still minimal.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | January 15, 2021
January 15, 2021 — 
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Image courtesy of  National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH)

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | January 15, 2021
January 15, 2021 — In one of the first studies to examine the impact of the...
Multidisciplinary functionality supports high-capacity utilization and economic efficiency
News | Mobile C-Arms | January 14, 2021
January 14, 2021 — Siemens Healthineers has announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance of the...
Use of telehealth jumped sharply during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, with the approach being used more often for behavioral health services than for medical care, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Getty Images

News | Teleradiology | January 13, 2021
January 13, 2021 — Use of telehealth jumped sha
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the agency's first Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML)-Based Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) Action Plan. This action plan describes a multi-pronged approach to advance the Agency's oversight of AI/ML-based medical software.
News | Artificial Intelligence | January 12, 2021
January 12, 2021 — The U.S.
Myocarditis among recovering COVID-19 athletes less common than previously reported

Getty Images

News | Cardiac Imaging | January 11, 2021
January 11, 2021 — In a letter published in the December issue of the American Heart Association's...
Jeff Elias, MD, is a neurosurgeon at UVA Health and a pioneer in the field of focused ultrasound.

Jeff Elias, MD, is a neurosurgeon at UVA Health and a pioneer in the field of focused ultrasound. Image courtesy of UVA Health

News | Focused Ultrasound Therapy | January 08, 2021
January 8, 2021 — A scalpel-free alternative to brain surgery has the potential to benefit people with...
The FDA is monitoring the potential impact of viral mutations, including an emerging variant from the United Kingdom known as the B.1.1.7 variant, on authorized SARS-CoV-2 molecular tests

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | January 08, 2021
January 8, 2021 — The U.S.
Mirion Technologies, Inc., a global provider of innovative radiation detection and measurement solutions, announced that it has acquired Sun Nuclear Corporation. Sun Nuclear is the global leader in radiation oncology quality assurance, delivering patient safety solutions for diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy centers around the world.
News | Quality Assurance (QA) | January 08, 2021
January 8, 2021 — Mirion Technologies, Inc., a global provider of