The coronavirus pandemic has drastically lowered the number of imaging exams private practices are administering, up to 80 percent for some practices, according to a recent report published by the Radiology Society of North America (RSNA).

In order to survive the economic hit, private imaging practices are try to figure out how to effectively and safely cut costs. Many have to resort to jeopardizing their workplace culture by decreasing pay, benefits, paid time off, and staff hours all the while increasing workloads.

The study analyzed the trajectory of a private practice in Michigan during the pandemic, referred to as “Practice A.” Between January 1, 2020 until March 22, 2020, Practice A had analyzed an average of 1,165 exams a week and had 1,144, wRVUs a week. From March 23 through 23 through May 3, these numbers dropped to 520 exams per week and 496 wRVUs.

Practice A is nearly 50 years old and maintains three imaging centers in the state. Despite their longevity, the significant dip in examination volume could push the practice into bankruptcy. They resorted to reducing office hours and radiologist responsibilities, wRVU-based pay lowered radiologists’ salaries due to the drop in imaging volume. Although Practice A received $90,000 from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Accelerated and Advance Payments Program and $500,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, 10 office staff employees and four technologists ended up leaving the practice.

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