Cardiologists' share of Medicare Part B payments for noninvasive diagnostic imaging services is growing at twice the rate of radiologists' share, according to research presented at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago. Radiologists received 55.4%, or $3.4 billion, of Medicare spending for noninvasive diagnostic imaging services in 2001, while cardiologists scooped up 25.3% of Medicare Part B fees, or about $1.5 billion. Cardiologists are primarily cashing in on echocardiography, stress testing and vascular ultrasound. "I think (the data) shows how actively cardiologists are participating in imaging," said Vijay Rao, lead author of the study and chairman of the department of radiology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. Substantive portions of Part B fees for noninvasive diagnostic imaging also went to primary-care physicians (8.3%), surgeons (7%) and internal medicine subspecialists (1.6%), the study showed. -- by Cinda Becker
Editor's note: An article in this week's Modern Healthcare addressed the battle between cardiologists and radiologists over control of a new CT heart scan. Read the article.