Imaging-center Market Growth Hits Wall in 2013; Volumes Plummeted in 2011

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The imaging center market contracted 3.65% in 2013, following a sharp 35% decline in imaging center volumes in 2011, according to a report from Radiology Business Journal and IMS Health.

The precipitous drop in volumes in 2011… clearly came as a blow to imaging centers already operating on reduced margins. - Cheryl Proval, editor, Radiology Business Journal

Pressure on reimbursement and increased competition took their toll on the imaging-center market in 2013 with the first reported declines on record in inventory, per-center volumes, and annual visits, according to a report on the Top 20 Imaging Center Chains of 2013 published by Radiology Business Journal.

The number of imaging centers in the United States declined by 3.65% in 2013, from 7,074 to 6,816 freestanding outpatient-imaging centers, just the second time the market contracted in the past 10 years. The more dramatic finding in the new report is that the contraction was preceded by a steep 35.25% decline in the average number of procedures performed weekly per center in 2011, the most recent data available.

The overview of the nation’s freestanding outpatient imaging-center market and its 10-year trends is based on data provided by IMS Health, Danbury, Conn. Imaging centers located on hospital grounds are not included in the counts.

“Until this year, the market appeared impervious to eight years of health-policy decisions aimed at curbing imaging growth by cutting outpatient imaging reimbursement,” said Cheryl Proval, editor of Radiology Business Journal and author of the report. “The precipitous drop in volumes in 2011, made available by IMS this year, clearly came as a blow to imaging centers already operating on reduced margins.”

“Our report did not investigate root causes of the decline in volumes, but reimbursement cuts, increased utilization management efforts, and the economic downturn were likely factors,” said Curtis Kauffman-Pickelle, publisher of Radiology Business Journal. “Those centers that survive through 2014 may benefit from improved volumes with the influx of newly covered patients.”

About Radiology Business Journal. Radiology Business Journal is a bi-monthly print journal exploring the transformational leadership, clinical, and business issues at work in radiology today. It is published by imagingBiz, founded by longtime industry veteran Curtis Kauffman-Pickelle, includes a portfolio of specialized publications delivering business intelligence for hospitals, imaging centers, and radiology practices.

About IMS Health. IMS Health is a leading information, services, and technology company dedicated to making health care perform better. The company leverages a global technology infrastructure, real-world evidence, advanced analytics, and proprietary software platforms to connect knowledge across all aspects of health care to help clients improve patient outcomes and operate more efficiently.

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Cheryl Proval
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