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Ergo brings advantages to First Pass scans in Canadian market

Posted on: 05.17.18

St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario is a teaching and research hospital renowned for providing exceptional patient care. The hospital’s Digirad Ergo Imaging System recently gained attention for its use in multi-gated acquisition scans (MUGA) combined with First Pass scans to assess both right and left ventricular function.

An Ideal Paring

The Ergo, a single-head gamma camera, performs the noninvasive diagnostic test that evaluates the percentage of blood pumped through the lower chambers of the heart. Because the First Pass and stress MUGA scans offer sensitivity as well as improved specificity to myocardial perfusion imaging, the study is an important offering that effectively measures wall motion when a patient’s heart rate is at its fastest. First Pass scans can lead to higher quality images, fewer artifacts, and higher diagnostic confidence.

The Ergo’s large field of view, portability, and clinical versatility were factors that weighed in the hospital’s purchasing decision. The ability for the camera’s head to be positioned closer to the patient, and the arm’s unique swing feature, which allows the technologist to image a variety of angles of the heart, made the Ergo an advantageous choice.

Ergo at Work in General Nuclear Imaging

In addition to First Pass, St Michael’s also uses the Ergo for general nuclear imaging, including gastric emptying, renal, parathyroid, and even lung scans. Because of its flexibility, the camera serves as a fallback option so they can offload any acute work when their primary SPECT camera experiences downtime for repair or maintenance.

By adding an Ergo to their imaging portfolio, the team of radiologists and cardiologists at St. Michael’s have access to a solid-state, portable, and high-quality imager that allows for unmatched utility. For more information on the Digirad Ergo Imaging System, click here.

Smart ways to take advantage of the ASNC ImageGuide Registry

Posted on: 01.18.18

ASNC ImageGuide RegistryLaunched in 2015, the ASNC ImageGuide Registry is the first national registry developed to support non-invasive cardiac imaging and reduce the increasing regulatory reporting burden. It effectively promotes and ensures continuous quality improvement for referring physicians, technologists, and laboratories by improving efficiency, elevating the level of patient care, and reducing downstream costs. With equal weight, it was designed with the desire to build a database that spurs new research that will, in turn, grow and expand the nuclear cardiology field.

Why is it important to physicians?

Across the entire healthcare insurance industry, plan payers are continuously moving toward value-based purchasing where cost and quality are major factors that help determine reimbursement levels. Alternative payment models, bundled payments, and higher deductible plans in the commercial insurance market and Medicare’s new quality payment and the MACRA MIPS programs are clear indications of the shift in direction. All lend themselves to physicians practicing within the clinical practice guidelines. The ImageGuide Registry can promote and reinforce the highest quality delivery of care and improve outcomes at an appropriate cost point, which, in turn, can help increase reimbursements.

In addition, the measures, which were created by and for ASNC members, are more meaningful to the nuclear cardiology industry than what would be reported through traditional MIPS measures, another way ASNC has committed to helping physicians achieve appropriate reimbursements and promoting the highest level of excellence in diagnostic imaging.

What are the benefits?

The ImageGuide registry allows physicians to submit data and, based on ASNC reporting guidelines, determine their level of performance. Are they testing the proper patients with the appropriate indications and using the applicable protocols? Are they using dose optimization strategies and returning reports to referring physicians on a timely basis? Physicians, or the practice administrator, can review the data over a given time period and identify areas for improvement.

Given the change in healthcare reform and the increase in out of pocket costs, patients are becoming more savvy. As consumers, they want to make sure they choose a physician that delivers the highest quality service, orders only the appropriate tests, and helps them avoid multiple copayments for unnecessary visits. The registry offers concrete evidence that helps physicians demonstrate the value they provide to patients who are paying more than they have in years passed.

Physicians will be able to use the registry to compare their performance against the 15 different metrics it tracks. And, because CMS has recognized ASNC’s ImageGuide Registry as a Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR), physicians who participate and submit data to the registry will also meet the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) requirements each year.

How do physicians submit data?

Data can be quickly and easily submitted manually through the register’s portal, which takes a speedy 60-90 seconds. If offices are using reporting software, like Sytermed, Cedars-Sinai, or INVIA, they’ll be able to automatically submit their data and bypass the manual entry.

ASNC asks that physicians submit their tests on a regular basis, without any cherry picking of cases. The objective is to review all tests to identify opportunities for improvement. Physicians will be able to view their individual data, but the practice administrator will be able to look a comprehensive report of the entire lab’s performance. Even though it’s physicians who are being tracked, it’s also helpful for the technologists because the registry tracks overall quality. It takes a whole team to improve the quality of service and care, so the reporting applies to the entire lab.

Who should join the ASNC Registry?

The registry is available to any nuclear cardiology lab or physician. In fact, for cardiologists who perform nuclear cardiology, participation in MIPS through ImageGuide is the most cost-efficient and effective method of submitting data. Because the benefit from Medicare applies to total Medicare receivables, and ImageGuide is specific to nuclear cardiology, physicians are able to track their imaging, improve it, and reap the benefits without having to submit as much data. Other registries often require the submission of all patient management.

Practices can be set up in the registry as a cardiac imaging group, a smaller practice, or simply as physicians performing nuclear cardiology. If you’re an ASNC member, the registry is complimentary with your paid membership. If you’re not a current member, the cost is $750 per year, which is still a prudent investment given the potential reduction in Medicare reimbursements it could help avoid.

An easy transition

If you think that participation in the registry will require heavy lifting, it’s quite the opposite. ASNC has support that can help will registration and data submission, initially and ongoing, so it’s not as difficult as one would think. If you’d like to get started, simply visit the ImageGuide portal and begin the enrollment process. If you have questions or need assistance, contact an ASNC representative.

MACRA implementation timeline and key dates you should be aware of

Posted on: 08.10.17

While 2017 and 2018 are transition years for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), there are several key dates of which to be aware. Adequately planning and preparation will offer you the best chance of success in 2019 when benchmarks and reporting begin to substantially affect your reimbursements. Here’s a timeline of important dates to keep in mind:


  • January 1: Start of the 2017 performance year
  • March 31: 1st snapshot of APM participation list for 2017 performance period
  • June 20: Last day to register to participate in MIPS for the 2017 performance period
  • June 30: 2nd snapshot of APM participation list for 2017 performance period
  • August 31: 3rd snapshot of APM participation list for 2017 performance period
  • October 2: Last day to begin collecting MIPS data for any group or individual clinicians seeking to report a minimum of one continuous 90-day period for 2017
  • November 1: Performance benchmarks for the 2018 MIPS performance period announced
  • Late 2017: Clinicians and groups meeting the 2018 performance year low-volume threshold MIPS exception or non-patient facing status are notified based on their Medicare services provided during the 2017 calendar year


  • January 1: Start of 2018 performance year
  • January 2 – March 31: Window for submitting 2017 MIPS and Advanced APM data for 2017
  • Spring: Final 2018 payment adjustments go into effect for all clinicians and groups under the final year of PQRS, EHR Incentive Program and Value-Based Payment Modifier based on 2016 performance
  • Estimated July 31: CMS provides 2017 MIPS performance period feedback and 2019 payment adjustment determinations to groups and individual clinicians
  • July 31 – September 30: Window for requesting a targeted review of a 2019 MIPS payment adjustment determination based on 2017 performance feedback


  • Spring: First MIPS payment adjustments of +/- 4% based on 2017 performance begin to be factored into Medicare Part B payments. Advanced APM Qualifying Participants will receive a lump sum payment equal to 5% of the estimated aggregate payment amounts for Medicare Part B covered professional services provided during the 2018 calendar year.

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