Reimbursement and use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy for prostate cancer

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Abstract

The use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for prostate cancer increased through the mid-2000s, in association with acquisition of the devices by large urology groups. More recently, reimbursement for IMRT in the office setting (generally representing freestanding facilities owned by physicians) has been declining. The aim of the study was to examine trends in IMRT use and related payments in the office versus hospital outpatient setting over time.

In this retrospective cohort study, a total of 66,967 men aged 66 years or older, with newly diagnosed prostate cancer from 2007 through 2012 were identified in a 20% national sample of Medicare claims. IMRT use in the office versus hospital outpatient setting was examined over time, adjusted for patient characteristics using multivariable logistic regression models. Mean reimbursement for IMRT treatments and total IMRT-related payments were plotted by year.

IMRT use increased from 28.6% to 38.0% of newly diagnosed men with prostate cancer over the study period, exclusively related to growth in the office setting. In particular, use in the office setting increased from 13.2% in 2007 to 22.1%, whereas use in the hospital outpatient setting remained essentially steady throughout the period around 15%. During the same period mean reimbursement for IMRT in the office setting declined from $504 per individual radiation treatment to $381, whereas it increased from $283 to $380 in the hospital outpatient setting. However, total IMRT-related payments in the office setting increased through 2011 due to increased utilization, falling only in 2012 (to $35.7 million from $48.3 million in 2011) related both to continued declines in reimbursement and a large reduction in new cases of prostate cancer.

In conclusion, use of IMRT in the physician office setting in men diagnosed with prostate cancer has continued to increase in the face of declining reimbursement. Total payments for IMRT fell only in 2012, following a substantial reduction in new cases of prostate cancer.

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