CMS expands PET coverage

April 9, 2009

GE strikes hospital alliance to develop connectivity SonoSite 1Q revenues look likely to slip

CMS expands PET coverage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will expand reimbursement to cover the use of PET scans to evaluate any type of cancer. Previous CMS policy allowed reimbursement for initial studies only if the facility submitted data to the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR). The American College of Radiology is framing the CMS decision, which was based on clinical evidence gleaned from NOPR, as a "shining example of how the medical community can interact with government on research that can ultimately save and extend patients' lives."

Now, Medicare patients with essentially all cancers can receive Medicare coverage for at least one PET scan prescribed by their physicians for initial treatment strategy evaluation, according to the ACR. This coverage is in addition to existing policy for Medicare coverage of 11 cancer types (breast, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, lymphoma, melanoma, non-small cell lung, thyroid, myeloma, and ovary) for subsequent treatment strategy evaluation.

GE strikes hospital alliance to develop connectivity

GE Healthcare will work with an Oregon hospital chain to develop a way to connect its Centricity EMR with third-party hospital information systems. The first release of the connectivity platform, expected in December 2009, will enable the sharing of patient conditions, allergies, and up-to-date medication history between hospitals and ambulatory care settings. Development work will leverage Centricity's Health Information Exchange (HIE) services and standards developed by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel. With its seven hospitals and associated clinics, GE's partner, Providence Health & Services, will collect, share, and access patient information using its Centricity EMR through the HIE.

SonoSite 1Q revenues look likely to slip

Revenue growth by hand-carried ultrasound pioneer SonoSite was not enough to offset a weak dollar in the first quarter of 2009, according to preliminary results gathered by the Bothell, WA, company. An estimate for the quarter ended March 31 shows a 4% rally in revenues gathered in the U.S. in the context of worldwide growth of between 6% and 7%. But a currency headwind of about 8% produced an overall revenue decrease of between 1% and 2% for the quarter. The company plans to finalize its financial results for the first quarter on April 27, 2009, after the stock market close.