New CMS Reimbursement Regulations for Film, CR – What You Need to Know!

New CMS standards for reimbursement when it comes to computed radiography (CR) and digital radiography (DR) X-ray imaging are coming into effect soon. January 1, 2017 to be specific. Here’s what you need to know to help save money and upgrade the quality of your imaging department.

The Reimbursement Changes

The most immediate payment reduction comes on the first of January of 2017.

  • January 1st 2017 – Medicare will reduce its payment for x-ray imaging not performed with a direct-digital detector by 20% for film.
  • January 1st 2018 – The reimbursement reductions for CR will be 7%.
  • January 1st 2023 – The reduction will increase to 10% for CR.

Differences between CR and DRshutterstock_383150944

The differences between CR and DR are stark, and not the “Winter is Coming” kind of Stark.

  • CR is much slower than using a DR panel from a workflow perspective, because it takes time for the cassette to be removed from the bucky tray, taken to the reader, read, cleared, and replaced into the bucky. A DR spends most of its time inside the bucky tray and saving you additional space.
  • Speed of rendering is going to be the biggest difference between CR and DR. DR is going to be much faster having the image captured and rendered in 5 seconds.
  • DR is also able to be shared across multiple modalities just like CR can, so upgrading will not be a sacrifice in interoperability.


There is a one drawback for DR — A higher upfront cost, but with the new reimbursement regulations coming into effect, DR will start to pay back that difference and more.

The Answer

The tougher question then becomes; how do you know what DR system will give you the highest quality of images while not breaking the bank?

ChameleonDR™ – Novarad’s DR solution will answer that question.

  • A 100-pixel pitch greatly increases the quality of images – especially when compared to CR.
  • High performance CsI scintillator, helps reduce patient exposure and enables an excellent DQE.
  • A user interface designed with providing the best experience possible was been developed from the ground up.
  • Once the image has been captured the A3™ image post processing technology is advanced, automated, and adaptive – no more worrying about the time-intensive CR workflow.
  • ChameleonDR™ couple’s industry leading imaging software with a superior DR plate. This combination provides you with a cutting-edge DR solution that can help your facility transition from CR, or easily expand your current solution.

Getting ready for the changes in reimbursement regulations will be an important part of ensuring that your imaging department is not missing out on the advancements in technology and missing out on reimbursements that you could be getting.

Learn more about ChameleonDR here, or simply get in touch with us.

2 thoughts on “New CMS Reimbursement Regulations for Film, CR – What You Need to Know!

    1. Hi Diana — thanks for commenting! Usually they split the CPT code into two parts, one for CR (lower price) and one for DR (normal price).

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