Reimbursement Issues Plague Tomosynthesis Adoption

Tomosynthesis is an effective tool, but PACS integration and reimbursement issues are causing problems, a new study finds.

Tomosynthesis is an effective tool for breast imaging, allowing doctors to clearly identify lesions, but PACS integration and reimbursement issues are causing problems, according to a new study from research firm KLAS.

Doctors are reporting interruptions in their day because not all PACS accept tomosynthesis studies. “It has created a workflow concern for radiologists who have to leave their office or reading room and come out to the tomosynthesis workstation to read the study,” said Monique Rasband, author of the report, Women’s Imaging 2012: Tomosynthesis Makes a Splash. The doctors do say, however, that this extra time seems worth the effort because of the procedure’s effectiveness, she said.

The researchers also found some reimbursement issues associated with tomosynthesis. Several customers of four companies - Aurora, Dilon, SonoCiné, and U-Systems, which offer a niche breast imaging product - reported difficulties in receiving reimbursements for screening patients, because reimbursement codes did not exist and patients were unwilling to pay out of pocket. U-Systems is working with the FDA to get approval of screening in all 50 states.

Hologic leads the pack in digital mammography, according to the report, because of their strong product and service. GE, Fuji, and Siemens aren’t quite able to keep up with Hologic, the KLAS report said, but GE leads the second tier of vendors. KLAS found issues with GE’s implementations and lagging tomosynthesis development. Meanwhile, Siemens has made improvements on reliability issues, but their customers reported the most downtime in the study. Fuji’s recently-approved digital mammography unit has yet to gain traction among current customers, the report found.

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