I’ve been traveling in Europe, including giving a talk at the Salzburg Global Seminar on involving and informing patients in healthcare decisions. In that presentation, I talked about promotion of a newer form of cancer radiation therapy called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
So I want to point out that while I’ve been away the Wall Street Journal published an important piece on this very topic under the headline “A Device to Kill Cancer, Lift Revenue.” An excerpt:
Roughly one in three Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with prostate cancer today gets a sophisticated form of radiation therapy called IMRT. Eight years ago, virtually no patients received the treatment.
The story behind the sharp rise in the use of IMRT—which stands for intensity-modulated radiation therapy—is about more than just the rapid adoption of a new medical technology. It’s also about financial incentives.
Taking advantage of an exemption in a federal law governing patient referrals, groups of urologists across the country have teamed up with radiation oncologists to capture the lucrative reimbursements IMRT commands from Medicare.
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*
Hey there, big, smart, good-looking doctor…
Are you tired of being snubbed at all the parties? Are you tired of those mean old specialists having all of the fun?
I have something for you, something that will make you smile. Just come to me and see what I have for you. Embrace me and I will take away all of the bad things in your life. I am what you dream about. I am what you want. I am yours if you want me…
Seduce: verb [trans.] attract (someone) to a belief or into a course of action that is inadvisable or foolhardy : they should not be seduced into thinking that their success ruled out the possibility of a relapse. See note at “tempt.”
(From the dictionary on my Mac, which I don’t know how to cite.)
If you ever go to a professional meeting for doctors, make sure you spend time on the exhibition floor. What you see there will tell you a lot about our system and why it is in the shape it is. Besides physician recruiters, EMR vendors, and drug company booths, the biggest contingent of booths is that of the ancillary service vendors.
“You can code this as CPT-XYZ and get $200 per procedure!”
“This is billable to Medicare under ICD-ABC.DE and it reimburses $300. That’s a 90 percent margin for you!”
This is an especially strong temptation for primary care doctors, as our main source of income comes from the patient visit — something that is poorly reimbursed. Just draw a few lab tests, do a few scans, do this, do that, and your income goes up dramatically. The salespeople (usually attractive women, ironically) will give a passing nod to the medical rationale for these procedures, but the pitch is made on one thing: Revenue. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*