Local, State, Federal

ASTRO/ACR Guide to Radiation Oncology Coding 2007 Now Available
ACR Launches ACR Image Metrix
The Bill Box
New Mammography Regulation and Reimbursement Report

ASTRO/ACR Guide to Radiation Oncology Coding 2007 Now Available

The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO), Fairfax, Va, in conjunction with the American College of Radiology (ACR), Reston, Va, has published the ASTRO/ACR Guide to Radiation Oncology Coding 2007. ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, serving more than 8,600 members; its last coding guide was published in 2005.

This revised edition includes new highlights to help radiation oncology practices find information on specific CPT codes; all chapters have been updated since 2005, and several new sections have been added, including those covering IGRT, stereotactic radiosurgery, and stereotactic body radiation therapy. The guide also includes information on radioimmunotherapy, radiopharmaceuticals, and microsphere brachytherapy; coding recommendations and educational pieces on why appropriate coding is critical to the field round out the guide.

“ASTRO, in collaboration with the ACR, worked diligently to make this guide accessible and available to the radiation oncology community,” said Bill Noyes, MD, MBA, chair of the ASTRO Health Policy Code Utilization and Application Subcommittee and a radiation oncologist at Cancer Center of North Dakota, Grand Forks. “We are confident that the 2007 guide and its new capabilities will provide our members with the tools to answer their coding questions.”

The 2007 guide is available in a complete package—which includes a hard copy of the book, a file for download to the user’s PDA, and a Web-based tool—for $150 for ASTRO members and $650 for nonmembers. It can be ordered via ASTRO’S Web site: www.astro.org/Shop/createorder.asp.

ACR Launches ACR Image Metrix

The American College of Radiology (ACR), Reston, Va, recently launched its ACR Image Metrix contract research organization (CRO). Designed to leverage the ACR’s 30 years of experience in coordinating large-scale clinical research to accelerate advances in radiologic care and fund future research, the Image Metrix offers an array of imaging CRO services, including study design, image archiving, design of electronic data forms, and image interpretation and quantification.

“ACR Image Metrix is another avenue to advance one of the College’s key missions, which is to [progress] the science of radiologic care through large-scale clinical research,” said Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, director of scientific affairs for the ACR Image Metrix. “The ACR, as a leader in clinical research, has the capacity and infrastructure to complete an increasing number of research projects simultaneously. ACR Image Metrix allows the College to enhance the ability of various imaging and radiation oncology stakeholders to bring lifesaving and life-enhancing advances to patients in a more timely and efficient manner.”

ACR Image Metrix is headquartered in the ACR’s Philadelphia office alongside the clinical research division, which has provided administrative, data management, information technology, image archival, and statistical support for more than 500 clinical research studies. The ACR’s clinical research programs have a reputation for handling large-scale clinical trials involving up to 50,000 patients and 50 million images. ACR Image Metrix will utilize this same infrastructure to provide support to pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms, and medical device manufacturers seeking FDA approval for new products. Revenue from these projects will be used to help fund future ACRIN, Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, and Quality Research in Radiation Oncology studies.

For more information, visit ACR Image Metrix online at www.imagemetrix.acr.org.

The Bill Box

House Bill Recommends Aiding Transition from Cancer Patient to Survivor

House Representatives Lois Capps (D-Calif) and Tom Davis (R-Va) introduced in late April a bill designed to aid the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. HR 1078 would implement the recommendations of a November 2005 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on how to help patients adapt more successfully to life after a cancer diagnosis; it would require that a personalized “survivorship care plan” be created for patients, incorporating information on their diagnosis, treatment, and the potential long-term consequences of the cancer in question.

“As more people fight, survive, and live with cancer, the need for a comprehensive approach to treating this disease grows,” Capps said. “It is my hope that in the coming months, we can move this legislation forward quickly.”

The IOM report recommended that individualized care plans should provide information on follow-up visits to the doctor, offer tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent cancer recurrence, detail legal issues affecting employment and insurance, and list psychological and support services available. The bill would provide Medicare payments to physicians for preparing the plans.

“Patients may not be aware of their risk of developing secondary cancers,” noted Emily Kryder, press secretary for Capps. “This knowledge gap about the potential risk for second cancers is a significant issue that this bill seeks to address.” Capps’ office cited the cost savings achieved via early detection as a way to offset the price of the bill, which it conceded “could be somewhat expensive.”

Colon Cancer Screening Bill Introduced
A new measure introduced into the Senate by a bipartisan coalition on April 19 would boost Medicare reimbursement for colorectal cancer screening. Sponsored by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md), the Colon Cancer Screen for Life Act would set reimbursement for colorectal cancer screening and diagnostic tests closer to the level that Medicare established in 1997 when the screening benefit was first created. Payment rates for this type of procedure have decreased by more than 33% since then.

“It is always tragic when a life is lost to cancer, but it is perhaps even more tragic when that loss could have been prevented,” Cardin said. “Modern technology has given us the tools to save lives, but we must ensure that people have access to these life-saving services. This bill not only increases access to colon cancer screenings for millions of Americans, but it also will save the Medicare system millions of dollars that otherwise would be spent on treating late-stage colon cancer.”

“One of the major problems with Medicare, and with health care in general, is we focus too much on treatment and not enough on early detection and prevention,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), cosponsor of S 1164. “Colon cancer is a perfect example of a disease where early detection could save lives as well as save money on medical care. I hope this bill will set an example for future improvements in health care delivery.”

Cat Vasko is associate editor of  Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .

New Mammography Regulation and Reimbursement Report

Providing a full year of comprehensive coverage and expert advice on imaging challenges and regulations, the Mammography Regulation and Reimbursement Report from HCPro Inc, Marblehead, Mass, is designed to help providers of imaging services meet the FDA’s requirements as defined by the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA).

Along with detailed information and time-saving tools, the report offers expert advice on a variety of topics, including teleradiology, ensuring that sensitive information is safe, protecting an organization while donating services, PACS administration, and effective training. Featuring actual case scenarios and easy-to-implement tips, the report will help facilities stay up to date on MQSA changes, as well as how to lower recall rates, avoid FDA scrutiny, bolster reimbursements, reduce liability, and beat image quality challenges.

The report costs $229 for 12 issues and free electronic access; the subscription is covered by a money-back guarantee, and subscribers will receive late-breaking news via e-mail, access to mammography facility case studies, timely news briefs on crucial mammography topics, and a monthly question-and-answer column. To order, visit www.hcmarketplace.com.