Survey: Volume remains thorn in cath labs side

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More than 80 percent of respondents to a recent Springboard Healthcare survey of cardiac catheterization labs reported experiencing increased or steady volumes. Despite that trend, volume ranked as the top challenge for cath labs in 2011 and was projected to remain their main concern in 2012.

Springboard, a recruiting and placement firm in Phoenix, conducted the survey to gauge cath lab performance based on factors such as revenue, expenses, facility outlook and company culture. The analysis was based on 359 responses to a 26-question survey, with the majority—90 percent—hailing from hospital-based cath labs. Reported revenues ranged from $5 million to more than $200 million.

Key findings included:

  • Slightly more than half of respondents said they anticipated that their cath lab would expand with additional services.
  • More than three-quarters expected their cath lab’s revenue trends to remain stable or improve in 2012.
  • Nonetheless, almost 28 percent expressed dissatisfaction with their current position.
  • And 61.1 percent responded that staffing issues were among their top three challenges in 2011.

According to the report, 40 percent of respondents said their facility experienced increased volumes in the last three months and another 43.5 percent reported steady volumes. Among the cath labs with increased volumes, half reported increases of less than 10 percent and another one-third had increases between 10 and 20 percent. But 4 percent chalked up increases of 60 percent with the reminder seeing increases between 20 and 30 percent. Facilities reporting volume losses declined to provide details.

The report attributed increases to several factors, including new and redefined relationships with physicians, consolidation of local markets, expanding current services and adding new services and marketing.

“Physician relationships are having a large impact on volume increase because reimbursements from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to cardiologists are down and the overhead is up,” the report authors wrote. “This has led to accountable care organization (ACO) involvement in cath lab operations.”

When asked about recent and near-term cath lab challenges, 44.9 percent responded that volumes presented the top challenge in 2011 and 41.6 percent pegged volumes as the top challenge for 2012. Another 17.2 percent listed volumes as their No. 2 headache in 2011 while another 22.4 chose volumes as the second most pressing challenge for 2012.   

Among dissatisfied workers, 15.1 percent said they were looking for a new career and 36.4 percent were eyeing other cath labs for job opportunities. Only 9 percent expected to retire. Overall, 86.9 percent of respondents considered their workplace to be good, improving or excellent.

“In an otherwise rocky economy, the cath lab industry is perceived as stable by industry professionals,” the authors wrote. “Morale remains high and although volume continues to be the largest concern for cath lab operations, contributing factors for volume growth are clearly discernible.”

The report is available here.