From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
This report originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of DOTmed Business News
By Jan. 1, 2012, imaging centers, office based-physicians and independent diagnostic testing facilities that bill for the technical components of CT, MRI, PET and nuclear medicine exams will need to carry the stamp of approval from one of the authorized advanced imaging accreditation bodies in order to continue receiving Medicare reimbursements.
With time running out, imaging experts urge applicants to begin the accreditation process as soon as possible – it may take months to complete, and some facilities are at risk of failing on their first try.
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But before jumping into the process, providers must first choose their preferred accreditation organization. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instilled three organizations with the power to accredit facilities. Each organization goes about the accreditation process differently.
American College of Radiology
ACR’s accreditation program is modality-based and providers must submit applications for each piece of their imaging equipment. This AO focuses on image quality, dose and safety and involves both phantom and image peer reviews. ACR emphasizes the fact that its accreditation process is overseen by board-certified radiologists and medical physicists.
Facilities can achieve accreditation in approximately 90 days from image submission. ACR doesn’t require a pre-accreditation on-site survey and providers can apply using ACRedit, the organization’s online application system.
ACR charges applicants for each unit of the modality. For example, accreditation of a CT unit is $2,400 for the first system. The organization then shaves off a $100 for each additional CT scanner at the location. Discounts for multiple sites are also available.
“The ACR accreditation process is comprehensive and gives providers input for continual process improvement including a peer-reviewed assessment of clinical and phantom image quality; evaluation of personnel qualifications and equipment requirements; and quality assurance and quality control,” an ACR spokesman told DOTmed News.
Facilities opting for ACR’s accreditation receive “Gold Standard” seals specific to each modality and a marketing kit that may be used to promote their status to patients, payers and referring physicians.
For more details, visit http://www.acr.org/
The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission
The IAC has three specific divisions to accredit facilities – one for nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology and PET; one for CT; and one for MRI. This AO doesn’t use phantom images; instead, reviewers inspect representative case studies. Laboratories are required to provide documentation of their quality control and quality assessment programs. The IAC zeroes in on staff qualifications, dose and imaging safety.