Reimbursement and Radiology – February Grand Rounds

Posted on February 2021

Do not miss the upcoming Grand Rounds Lecture, “Current Trends in Payment Policy and Implications for Radiologists”. The lecture will be given by Melissa Chen, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Division of Diagnostic Imaging, at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The lecture focuses on how national reimbursement and value decisions impact care at the local level. Dr. Chen’s unique background makes her a great resource on economics and the roles reimbursement and payment play in a radiologist’s career.

With a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Chen was on track for a career as an investment banker on Wall Street. Her first day of work in New York City, which happened to be September 11th, 2001, changed that. The catastrophic events of that day caused her to re-evaluate her career goals and choices. She wanted to make a difference and help others, and chose to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in medicine.

Dr. Chen did not think her financial background would translate to medicine. However, after learning more about the American College of Radiology (ACR) Economics Commission, she realized her background would allow her to advocate for payment and reimbursement issues. She became involved with the ACR Economics Commission during her Residency and has not looked back since. She currently serves on the ACR Economics Committees on Reimbursement and MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

Through MD Anderson Cancer Center and her positions in national medical organizations, Dr. Chen uses her financial knowledge to improve radiology. A lot of her projects focus on the value that radiologists bring to healthcare. For example, she is looking at the utility of advanced brain imaging for brain cancer patients to assess how it effects patient care, as well as the costs and benefits associated with it. Through her roles with the ACR and the American Society of Neuroradiology, she is involved with reimbursement policy at a national level.

This work relates directly to her lecture, where she will discuss how physicians are reimbursed by Medicare and how CPT codes are valued. Even for physicians not working directly with finances, it is good to have a basic understanding of value and reimbursement, so that they can understand how reimbursement changes on a national level can impact the care they provide to individuals in their local communities. Additionally, Dr. Chen plans to discuss her involvement in organized medicine to highlight the ways that developing a national network beyond the local community can benefit physicians.

Dr. Chen hopes people leave her lecture with a basic understanding of reimbursement policy and how it affects their practice. “For radiology it is easy to see us as a commodity and it is easy to get caught up in trying to get all the work done. People are swept up in productivity and getting things done quickly. I want physicians to be able to focus on quality aspects of care to preserve work that they find most meaningful and to give the best care to their patients,” says Dr. Chen.

Dr. Chen’s lecture takes place on Thursday February 11th at noon, via WebEx.