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Personal Injury Attorneys and Diagnostic Imaging: A Patient-Centered Approach

Personal injury cases often hinge on great diagnostic imaging, and attorneys can benefit from referring their patients to a provider with experience in the field. While injured patients are free to schedule an MRI or X-ray at a hospital or random imaging center, cases flow much more smoothly when attorneys and their clients choose providers that know how to best assist in the case, while providing excellent, patient-centered care. Here are a few reasons personal injury attorneys should stick to a single preferred provider for diagnostic imaging:

 

Patients might need to pay for diagnostic imaging with a personal injury lien.

 

Many medical providers aren’t equipped to handle lien payments. When attorneys and clients agree on an imaging provider prior to injury, they can choose a company that has long years of experience handling personal injury cases, including lien payments — that is, a company like Precise Imaging.

 

Attorneys often need diagnostic imaging results quickly.

 

Hospitals sometimes experience lengthy delays before they can schedule a diagnostic imaging procedure. Then, when the procedure is complete, staff radiologists might take days to complete the radiology report. Meanwhile, case deadlines can come and go.

 

Precise Imaging offers same-day scheduling and quick turnaround times for reports. Radiologists file their reports within 48 hours of the procedure, and usually much sooner, often within just 24 hours.


Not all imaging centers are prepared for letters of protection.

 

For personal injury cases involving a letter of protection, it’s important to choose an imaging provider that has experience with this legal tool. Precise Imaging has partnered with patients and their attorneys for thousands of personal injury cases, and accepts every type of remuneration, including workers’ compensation, liens, and deferred payment based on a letter of protection.    

 

Attorneys can simplify client care with a preferred diagnostic imaging provider.

 

With Precise Imaging for personal injury cases, a single phone call gives attorneys everything they need to win in court. In fact, attorneys never need to pick up the phone to get help for their clients. A specialized attorney web portal provides images, payment information, and case details with full HIPAA compliance. It’s available 24/7, and so is the IT support that ensures everything runs smoothly.

 

Clients will appreciate the friendly, professional service they receive at any of Precise Imaging’s 70+ locations. They’ll also love the simple scheduling, with evening and weekend appointments available. Attorneys, on the other hand, will find a streamlined approach that simplifies personal injury cases while providing medical details that win in court.

 

To learn more about Precise Imaging’s commitment to assisting in personal injury cases, or to refer a client today, call 800.558.2223. You can also make an online referral here.

The Benefits of Large Imaging Networks vs. Small Independent Facilities

Precise Imaging operates more than 70 locations in California, Arizona, and Nevada. The size of this network provides benefits to referring doctors and patients alike.

 

Smaller, independent imaging facilities often can’t produce the same advantages — they simply don’t have the staff, the space, or the infrastructure. The advantages of a large-scale diagnostic imaging organization like Precise Imaging include:

 

More convenient scheduling. 

 

Precise Imaging locations are open late and on weekends, and they’re distributed all over major metropolitan areas. This makes it easier and more convenient for patients to schedule an imaging appointment close to them, and at a time they prefer. Referring physicians can even ask for same-day service for cases in which time is of the essence.

 

Simplified billing.

 

Medical billing is complex enough. Rather than filing paperwork with many different small-time providers, choosing Precise Imaging gives medical providers a single contact point for all issues of billing. Precise Imaging offers a clear and streamlined billing system. It’s so simple that it fits on a single page.

 

Dependability and consistency in radiology reports.  

 

All Precise Imaging radiologists carry board certification and operate in the United States. They work quickly and accurately to return detailed, actionable radiology reports to referring physicians, usually within 24 hours — or even faster for STAT orders.

 

These benefits help to explain why more than 150,000 patient and over 4,000 physicians and attorneys have chosen Precise Imaging over the past 20 years.

 

Multiple Referral Options and Quick, Easy Access to Radiology reports

 

At Precise Imaging, we strive to make the whole diagnostic process easier on physicians. In addition to the benefits listed above, Precise Imaging keeps all avenues of communication open for referring doctors.

 

Doctors may share a referral through fax, via telephone, or with our simple online form. You can even email us the referral.    

 

Once you’ve referred a patient, sign up for the online doctor’s portal for real-time access to images and radiology reports. The portal is completely HIPAA-compliant so physicians and radiologists can easily share patient information — ultimately leading to quicker, more accurate diagnoses and better outcomes.

 

If you ever have trouble with the portal, enjoy qualified IT assistance any time of the day or night. Simply call us at 800-558-2223 for help with Precise Imaging digital tools.

 

If you’re a patient, a physician, or an attorney working on a personal injury case (with or without a lien), call Precise Imaging at 800-558-2223 today. Our friendly scheduling staff are ready to help you find the ideal appointment for virtually any diagnostic imaging procedure.

Precise Imaging Accepts Medicare

21 Jul 2017 Health Care, Medical, MRI

Precise Imaging Accepts Medicare for Diagnostic Imaging Procedures

 

Refer your Medicare patients to Precise Imaging with full confidence — we accept Medicare payments for diagnostic imaging procedures.

 

When you order an MRI, CT an X-ray, your patients have a right to know if the procedure is covered under Medicare. With Precise Imaging, know that when patients ask about this coverage, the answer is always, “Yes.”

 

Every physician encounters Medicare patients. The program is vast, as evidenced by these statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the AARP:

 

  • As of 2015, the last year for which data is available, more than 55 million Americans received Medicare benefits.
  • Medicare beneficiaries make up more than 15 percent of the total U.S. population.

 

  • The AARP estimates that the program will provide benefits for nearly 80 million Americans by 2030.

 

By knowing which facilities accept Medicare before referring patients, doctors can help to keep medical costs manageable. They can also save time during visits by eliminating last-minute research.

 

Make an online referral through our HIPAA-compliant form, or sign into the Physician’s Web Portal to begin. Precise Imaging staff will take it from there. We obtain authorizations, work with your patient to schedule a convenient appointment, and communicate directly with insurers to arrange billing. All the physician has to do is make the referral and study the results.

 

For more information, or to refer a patient today, call Precise Imaging at 800-558-2223.

 

What Patients Should Know About Medicare and Diagnostic Imaging

 

Not all independent imaging centers accept Medicare payments. While the last thing you want to think about when you’re injured is the medical bill, it pays to ask if any procedure is covered under the program.

 

Precise Imaging maintains ongoing relationships with most major insurers, including Medicare, to make payments hassle-free for all involved. Our staff handles the billing and subsequent paperwork, so patients don’t have to navigate the complex world of health care spending on their own.

 

Whether you’re a referring doctor or a patient with Medicare coverage, contact Precise Imaging to schedule a convenient, comfortable, and highly accurate imaging procedure.

 

Does Medicare Cover Your MRI, CT Scan, or X-Ray?

 

Medicare Part B covers a comprehensive range of “medically necessary services,” as well as some preventative care. These services may include:

 

  • Diagnostic lab procedures, such as blood tests and biopsies.

 

  • Diagnostic imaging procedures, such as MRI, X-ray, and ultrasound scans.

 

  • Reusable medical equipment.

 

  • Some prescription drugs.

 

  • Mental health treatment, both inpatient and outpatient.

 

Diagnostic imaging procedures are generally considered “medically necessary” when a doctor orders them, so they are usually covered by Medicare. Everyone with Part B should be covered, as long as they choose an eligible provider.

 

All of Precise Imaging’s 70+ locations accept Medicare, so call us at 800-558-2223 to discuss your case or to schedule an appointment today.

mri-facility

How Hospitals Determine the Price of an MRI—and Why Clinics Can Charge Less

How Hospitals Determine the Price of an MRI—and Why Clinics Can Charge Less

 

When your doctor orders an MRI, should you stay within the hospital system or find an independant imaging center?

 

If you want to pay less, you’re better off with the latter.

 

You’d expect a similar procedure to have a similar cost, no matter who your provider is. In fact, the price of an MRI might vary wildly, even within the same small region — and even when funded by the same insurance plan. For instance, a 2014 report from medical-claim analysts at Change Healthcare found that the insurer’s in-network price for an MRI ranged between $511 and $2,815.

 

Not much has changed since 2014. The latest figures from financial-planning site Bankrate report a general range of MRI costs between $400 and $3,500. That’s a $3,100 spread for the exact same procedure.

 

“Imaging bills typically run two to three times higher at hospitals than at freestanding radiology centers,” reports Money. But what’s the rationale for this tremendous difference in price, especially since clinics often use the exact same equipment and radiologists as hospitals?   

 

To find out, we’ll have to go a little deeper into the complex world of health care pricing for hospitals.

 

Calculating Prices for MRI Scans at Full-Service Hospitals: DRG Basics

 

While hospitals follow different pricing schedules, every operation works to ensure profitability of these things called diagnosis-related groups, or DRGs.

 

DRGs are specific codes covering treatment for common conditions. That is, they gather all the discrete medical interventions for a particular diagnosis into a single, calculable “product.” They’re important for hospital balance sheets because Medicare decides what it will pay for care according to each of these codes — and hospitals can mark up their prices from there.

 

For instance, if you were to have an appendectomy, the hospital might add the costs for your imaging, surgery, aftercare, and drug/equipment usage into a single cost under the assigned DRG code. If you were on Medicare, there would already be a pre-set price for the entire set of procedures. If an insurance company pays for the services, though — or an individual — hospitals determine their own rates for those DRGs. That’s where things get even more complicated.

Estimating Radiology Department Costs in Order to Set Charges

The typical model that hospitals have used to figure out how much to charge for a given DRG service is called the ratio of cost-to-charge (RCC). The RCC figure divides the hospital’s total costs by the amount they charge the payer. The resulting ratio describes the hospital’s ability to turn a profit. The lower the RCC, the more profit for the hospital.

 

So, the RCC approach became the standard method used to figure out how much to charge patients. The problem is, while RCC calculations are very accurate and reliable for grouped charges, such as DRGs, they’re notoriously off-base when it comes to individual services, such as those offered by radiology departments.

 

Forward-thinking hospitals slowly began to change their methods of determining charges, a process that inevitably begins with figuring out total costs per procedure. Here’s an example of another approach, provided by David W. Young in the journal Healthcare Financial Management:

 

Young divides costs hospitals must pay for an MRI scan into three categories:

 

  1. Direct costs include the obvious hospital expenses; salaries for staff, medical supplies, and depreciation of machinery.

 

  1. Departmental costs cover the salaries of administrators.

 

  1. Allocated costs flow down from the hospital administration; they’re comprised of the estimated value of maintenance and janitorial services for the radiology department.

 

Once administrators figure out these costs for an MRI scan, they add them together, then divide by the number of MRI scans in a given period; this gives them a total estimated cost for the procedure on its own.

 

Of course, if that cost should prove higher than Medicare, they will still only be paid the official price set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMM). That’s one of the reasons some hospitals mark up their Medicare prices by up to 1,000 percent for insurance companies or cash payers; they argue they’re making up for expenses left uncovered by government programs.  

 

MRI Scans: Determining Individual Charges from Cost Estimates

 

Once administrators calculate the cost of an MRI, all that’s left is to apply the markup and start issuing bills. So what determines a hospital’s markup over cost on an MRI, or any service for that matter?

 

Just about anything. Possibly nothing. It’s the mystery at the heart of the U.S. health care system. Only two states, Maryland and West Virginia, set top rates for hospitals. Everywhere else, health care providers can charge whatever they want—and they do.

 

A 2015 study in the journal Health Affairs studied markups at U.S. hospitals. The average markup among most hospitals in the nation was 340 percent. Among the 50 hospitals with the highest markups, that number was over 1,000 percent. The hospital at the top of the list marked up procedures 1,260 times the CMM charge.

 

Radiology departments are particularly vulnerable to enormous markups. Brian Keigley, who founded the consumer group New Choice Health, told Money that “radiology is often subsidizing other service lines.”

 

For instance, if an emergency department at a major metropolitan hospital loses money, administrators might raise the price on MRIs to make up the difference. This brings us to why freestanding imaging facilities can charge so much less per procedure.  

 

Keeping Costs Low at Medical Imaging Clinics

 

Hospitals can mark up their costs for an MRI as much as they want. There are no regulations to control medical pricing in most states, and being part of a hospital system keeps patients flowing regularly through the radiology department.

 

Ultimately, hospitals are sheltered from price-controlling market forces by obscure charges, patient vulnerability, intra-institutional referrals, and, often, non-profit status.  

 

Meanwhile, freestanding imaging clinics must compete with the facility down the street. There’s a distinct incentive for Company A to offer low-price MRIs without sacrificing quality. Remember: They’re also competing with hospitals, which usually get the first shot at any patient’s business.

 

Plus, imaging clinics don’t have to cover for underperforming departments. They provide MRIs and X-rays; their radiologists write reports; they do what they do and that’s it. With a more focused business model, these companies are much more free to reduce margins in order to thrive through sheer patient volume.

 

The result is good for patients and their care. Clinics offer simpler, more flexible scheduling. They can focus on patient care rather than cope with the complexities of an enormous organization. They charge much, much less than hospitals for an MRI.

 

In short, it pays to do a little shopping around when your doctor orders an MRI. Whatever you do, don’t march down the hall to the hospital radiology department without having a conversation about pricing.  

 

References:

 

Ashford, Kate. “What I Learned When I Asked How Much My MRI Would Cost.Forbes. Forbes Media LLC, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 July 2017.   

Deleon, Maya. “Need an MRI? Here’s what it will cost.Bankrate. Bankrate, LLC, 23 June 2017. Web. 1 July 2017.

 

Gengler, Amanda. “How to Get the Same Health Care at a Quarter of the Cost.Money. Time, Inc., 16 July 2014. Web. 1 July 2017.

 

Glover, Lacie. “Why Does an MRI Cost So Darn Much?Money. Time, Inc., 16 July 2014. Web. 1 July 2017.  

Potter, Wendell. “Why Hospitals Mark Up Prices by 1,000 Percent.Newsweek. Newsweek, LLC, 15 June 2015. Web. 1 July 2017.     

Reinhardt, Uwe. “How Do Hospitals Get Paid? A Primer.NYTimes. The New York Times Company, 23 Jan 2009. Web. 1 July 2017.

 

Schwartz, M, DW Young and R Siegrist. “The ratio of costs to charges: how good a basis for estimating costs?NCBI. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1996. Web. 1 July 2017.

 

Young, David W. “What Does an MRI Scan Cost?” Healthcare Financial Management, no. 11, 2015, p. 46. EBSCOhost, 1 July 2017.

 

personal-injury-lien

Personal Injury Liens and Medical Imaging: What to Know

Personal Injury Liens and Medical Imaging: What to Know

 

Personal injury claimants don’t need health insurance or upfront cash to pay for medical imaging services. They can opt to cover their coverage with a medical lien instead.

 

If your injury was caused by another party, and you file a claim, medical liens offer a way to defer payment for medical expenses—including X-rays, MRI scans, and other imaging procedures—until after you’ve received your settlement. However, liens also legally require you to repay the entity that paid for the treatment in the first place, whether that’s a health insurer, a workers’ compensation fund, or even the hospital itself.   

 

Medical liens can get tricky, and you should discuss your own case with your lawyer before making any decisions. In the meantime, here are the basics of what you should know about personal injury liens and medical imaging:

 

  1. Lien-basis medical treatment will become a legal part of your case.  

 

Medical liens are legal structures that become part of the framework of a personal injury case. That means your lawyer can handle the payment as part of the claim, saving patients time and frustration dealing with unending medical bills.

 

  1. Not all medical imaging providers accept payment on a lien basis.

 

Health care professionals incur some risk when they agree to treat patients with a lien. After all, that patient could lose their case or not have sufficient funds to pay their medical bills satisfactorly. Therefore, some providers refuse to accept liens in lieu of upfront payment. Precise Imaging accepts personal injury liens and workers’ compensation liens, and they work with patients and lawyers together to keep the process smooth and simple.  

 

  1. The lien payment may come out of your personal injury settlement.

 

You won’t have to raid the checking account to pay a personal injury lien. The money comes straight out of your settlement, which should be adjusted to cover all of your medical bills, as well as other considerations, such lost wages and suffering.

 

  1. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a lower price before settling.

Because attorneys build relationships with medical care providers and insurance companies alike, they can often negotiate a discount rate for work done on a lien basis.

 

While the idea of a lien might seem intimidating at first, they enable absolutely everyone to receive the care they need. Claimants who don’t have insurance or lots of savings can be devastated by the medical expenses associated with personal injury.

 

When doctors and lawyers work out payment on a lien basis, the party that’s responsible for the injury ends up paying the medical bills. That’s a fair and just way to resolve claims.

 

Medical imaging is a major step in the healing process, and it should be available to all. Thanks to personal injury liens, everyone has access to top-quality care without upfront payment. Call Precise Imaging at 800-558-2223 to learn more about friendly, effective care in personal injury cases involving a lien.

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