Price sensitivity in imaging is certainly on everyone's minds right now given the economy and increasing number of patients covered under high-deductible plans. News pieces like this one regarding MRI pricing at Sutter Davis Hospital in California are also grabbing headlines and shifting further attention to this issue. Unfortunately, this is an area where hospitals have a hard time effectively competing with non-hospital outpatient imaging centers. We discussed dealing with price sensitivity in our national meeting study, "Imaging's Transforming Landscape" and also in a dedicated webconference, "Assessing Price Sensitivity in Outpatient Imaging."
Gauging the Prevalence of Price Sensitivity among Consumers
Several years ago, women's health vendor Hologic introduced the concept of 3D digital breast tomosynthesis, a new technology thought to revolutionize the breast imaging specialty by increasing the performance of standard 2D digital mammography. Interest from the health care community immediately sparked, with many experts indicating breast tomosynthesis could ultimately supplant digital mammography as the modality of choice for the screening and diagnosis breast cancer in any setting. Despite its promise, the years came and went, but still no tomosynthesis product. The lack of clinical data, a very complicated FDA reviewal process, unclear indications for use, and myriad other factors were, and still are, to blame. Now, it appears one very important and cumbersome barrier to tomosynethsis development is beginning to budge.
Tomosynthesis Inches Closer to Approval with Positive FDA Meeting
After speaking with members at the 2010 IPP National Meeting in Marina Del Rey, CA, one idea on imaging supply cost savings seemed interesting to share. To control supply waste in high expense areas like IR, organizations frequently dedicate attention to these areas either using personnel or technology. Ideas presented at the meeting included manual supply logs, staff profiling, dedicated IR supply managers and barcode inventory technologies. However, another method used to tackle the problem of high expense supply waste is contracting with vendors for "recoup" clauses. In cases like the one presented at the 2010 IPP National Meeting where physicians wasted stents due to dropped supplies or opened but unused items, there is opportunity to recoup some of those wasted dollars directly from vendors. When contracting, hospitals can secure terms that allow the return of opened, but unused or even dropped stents for 50% reimbursement. In many cases, vendors will sterilize and repackage these items to be sold to other organizations or even the originating institution. Be sure to investigate this opportunity as it seems it could only benefit any participating organization.
"Recoup" Clauses May Offer Cost Savings in High Expense Supply Areas