France's national union of private radiologists (Fédération Nationale des Médecins Radiologues, FNMR) today unveiled its new independent medical imaging (nouvelle imagerie médicale libérale, NIML) project, pivoting on nine major areas where the union believes urgent action is necessary.
In a press conference this morning, FNMR President Dr. Jean-Philippe Masson noted this initiative was created in response to the difficulties imaging faces in France. Among other things, it targets the removal from national law of article 99, adopted in February, which imposes a reduction in the tariff for technical acts for CT and MRI. It also aims to re-establish the code Z supplement, a reimbursement policy abolished at the same time.
The NIML project will be promoted to private radiologists across France, who are invited to discuss it before the definitive scheme is launched during the national radiology congress, (Journées Francophones de Radiologie, JFR), in mid-October.
Masson and colleagues are focusing their efforts on the following nine measures:
- Increase of MRI units from 12 to 20 per million inhabitants, in line with the European average
- Implementation of permanent local breast cancer screening services
- Preservation of a national imaging network that promotes local care and services in proximity to patients
- Promotion of interventional imaging
- Encouragement and support for information sharing between the public and private imaging sector
- Quality teleradiology based on the Teleradiology Charter
- Wider implementation of quality assurance, ultrasound quality control, and x-ray dose listed in patient health records
- Flexibility of departmental budgets, and reinvestment of savings back into imaging
- Removal of screening acts from imaging's budget
"This project, proof of independent radiologists' will to establish a new means of organization and operation for primary care in France, will be presented next week to the prime minister's team, and to the Ministry of Health, the following week," Masson stated. "A precondition of any discussion between FNMR and the authorities can only be the removal of article 99, which prevents any trust between health organizations, the ministry, health insurers, policymakers, and private radiologists."
Depending on the outcome of these meetings, the FNMR will decide what further action should be taken, he added.
The project is the latest strategy in a raft of recent actions aimed at overturning February's rulings on tariffs and reimbursement codes. These included a one-day strike by private imaging clinics on 23 March, a move supported by France's professional imaging syndicate, G4, and other groups including the national union of nuclear medicine specialists, as well as a week-long strike for appointment bookings by phone.
The FNMR is still waiting for the results of two separate appeals to the State Council for the abolition of article 99 and the re-establishment of the Z supplement.
According to FNMR, the technical tariff allows investment in -- and maintenance of -- cross-sectional imaging modalities, while the Z supplement is a means by which radiologists can cover costs related to investment in state-of-the-art imaging structures that use modalities generating less ionizing radiation.