CMS Approves Three Organizations to Accredit Imaging Suppliers

Come Jan. 1, 2012, a provision in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) requires all suppliers of the technical component (TC) of advanced diagnostic imaging services suppliers to be accredited by an accreditation organization designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). To that end, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has named three national accreditation organizations—The American College of Radiology (ACR), the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) and The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)—for the job.

“While advanced diagnostic imaging procedures can be useful in identifying health problems that might otherwise require surgery, the rapid growth in their use raises important questions of quality and safety,” said Barry Straube, M.D., CMS chief medical officer and director of the CMS Office of Standards and Quality. “The three organizations that will be  accrediting suppliers have the expertise and authority to set a standard of excellence industry-wide.”

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To be designated, the accrediting organizations had to demonstrate that they were experienced in the advanced diagnostic imaging area, and that their accreditation requirements met or exceeded the standards set out in MIPPA, including requirements for:

  • Qualifications of non-physician personnel performing the imaging;
  • Qualifications and responsibilities of medical directors and supervising physicians;
  • Procedures to ensure the safety of the individuals furnishing the imaging procedure and of the persons to whom the services are furnished;
  • Procedures to ensure the reliability, clarity, and accuracy of the technical quality of the diagnostic images produced by the supplier;
  • Procedures to assist the beneficiary in obtaining his or her imaging records on request; and
  • Procedures to notify CMS of any changes to the imaging modalities subsequent to the accrediting organization’s decision.

The accreditation requirement applies to physicians, non-physician practitioners, and physician and non-physician organizations that are paid for providing the TC of advanced imaging services under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). Physicians interpreting the images are not included in this accreditation requirement.

MIPPA defines advanced diagnostic imaging procedures as those involving diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and nuclear medicine imaging, such as positron emission tomography (PET). Other imaging techniques, such as X-rays, ultrasound, and fluoroscopy, are excluded. Diagnostic and screening mammography are subject to quality oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Mammography Quality Standards Act.

CMS says it will issue further guidance to suppliers about meeting the accreditation requirements.


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