CT Procedures Up, Report Says, but Double-Digit Growth is Over

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Although the number of CT procedures performed across the country is still increasing annually, a new survey from market researchers IMV shows that the days of double-digit growth are behind the industry.

In 2011, IMV reports, some 85.3 million CT procedures were performed across the United States on an estimated 13,775 scanners at nearly 8500 locations. That’s up 4 percent annually from 2010 numbers, when the estimated numbers were just shy of 82 million. Of those procedures, 53 percent were conducted with a contrast agent; that figure is down from 67 percent in 2007.

According to IMV, more than half of all sites in its study (58 percent) expect that their throughput will increase in 2012, and another one-third (34 percent) anticipates that procedures this year will at least match 2011 output.

Impediments to growth cited in the report include: fewer reimbursement dollars despite flat or increasing patient volumes and an uptick in the number of ER patients requiring CT procedures.

Hospitals are capitalizing on the more favorable reimbursement rates they receive by “shifting their outpatients to hospital-owned imaging centers,” according to IMV. That’s causing hospitals to buy up more imaging centers, where CT procedure volumes are climbing much more rapidly than in freestanding imaging centers.

“Over the past decade, inpatient CT volume as a percentage of total CT volume has shifted from 34% in 2001 to 18% in 2011, with outpatient and ER volume increasing from 66% to 82%,” the report stated.