If you’re dealing with lower reimbursement rates, lower procedure volumes and reduced collections, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling to absorb higher administrative and operating costs, you’re not alone. If you’ve experienced diminished revenue growth—well, you get the picture.

The practice manager of a longstanding Affiliated Professional Services client recently shared their experience with us. In the past two years, the business of 15 radiologists practicing in a fairly typical suburban hospital has seen the perfect storm of volume decreasing, reimbursements decreasing, and an unfavorable shift in the payor mix. All in all, the practice’s revenue is down around 20%–and they aren’t alone.

The reality of radiology in 2010 is that doctors are seeing fewer patients, and patients are increasingly opting out of high-cost procedures as more and more of the payment responsibility shifts to them. Is this an anomaly, or is it a long-term condition to which the industry will have to adapt itself? Looking back on 2009 and late 2008, it’s clear that the current trend began even before the recession officially struck, and it shows no signs of abating. Radiology’s reality today will be its reality for the foreseeable future.

By this point, most practices have seen the writing on the wall, and are in the process of discussing new and innovative ways to stay profitable. What are your options in terms of maintaining income in this economic environment—voluntary pay cuts among partners, employee furlough, outsourcing certain services?

Billing and collections can be one of the most burdensome aspects of a practice’s business. In many cases, it can account for as much as 14% of annual operating cost. APS has specialized in radiology billing since 1982; our client history indicates that we improve billing and collection performance for our practices by 5% to 25%, while reducing the overhead costs associated with an internal billing program by as much as 50%.

At APS, our radiology billing fee is contingent upon our net collections for clients, so we’re motivated to maximize billing performance: our first-pass rate on claims is over 95%; we work every claim to maximize our clients’ revenue; and we don’t “off-shore” any aspect of our operations, which can lead to costly errors. With 28 years’ experience in the industry, we also know that the right data leveraged the right way can be the factor that makes or breaks a practice. That’s why we provide all of our clients with practice management information and reporting, helping them identify and make the best of opportunities as they arise.

Boosting revenue while reducing costs is no easy feat, and opportunities to do so are increasingly rare in radiology. If you’re not already outsourcing your billing, now may be the time for your group to discuss your options. In facing down the challenges of today’s climate, you’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with groups all over the country—and with APS. As a partner to practices nationwide, our business relies on helping our clients reduce overhead while maximizing reimbursement.

Times are tough for radiology groups, and may become tougher yet, but in needing to make tough decisions to stay profitable, you’re not alone.