Expected changes in physician outpatient interventional practices as a result of coronavirus disease 2019 and recent changes in Medicare physician fee schedule

John Blebea, Krishna Jain, Chin I. Cheng, Chris Pittman, Stephen Daugherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We examined the economic and practice effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and decreased Medicare physician payments on outpatient vascular interventional procedures. Methods: A 21-point survey was constructed and sent electronically to the physician members of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society and the American Vein and Lymphatic Society. The survey responses were converted to a Likert scale and statistical analyses performed to examine the associations between the response variables and the characteristics and practice patterns of the physician respondents. Results: A total of 165 physicians responded to the survey, of whom 33% were vascular surgeons, 18% were radiologists, and 15% were general surgeons. For slightly more than one half (55%), their interventional practice was limited to the office setting, with the remainder also performing procedures in an office-based laboratory (OBL), ambulatory surgery center (ASC), or hospital. Almost all respondents had performed superficial venous interventions, with slightly more than one third also performing either deep venous procedures and/or peripheral arterial interventions. The COVID-19 pandemic had affected 98% of the practices, with a staff shortage reported by 63%. The most-established physicians, those with the longest interval since training completion, were the least likely to have experienced staff shortages. Almost all (94%) the respondents expected that the recent Medicare payment changes will have a negative effect on their practice. Physicians with only an office-based practice were less likely to add a physician associate compared with those with an OBL (P = .036). More than one quarter reported that it was likely they would close or sell their interventional practice in the next 2 years and 43% reported they were planning to retire early. The anticipated ameliorative responses to the decreased Medicare physician payments included adding wound care (24%) or other clinical services (36%) to their practices, with the alternatives considered more by younger physicians (P = .002) and nonsurgeons (P = .047). Only 10% expected to convert their practices to an ASC or hybrid ASC/OBL (16%). Conclusions: The emotional and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decreased Medicare physician reimbursement rates for vascular outpatient interventionalists have been significant. Even greater challenges for the financial viability of office practices and OBLs can be expected in the near future if additional further planned cuts are put into effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9.e4
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Medicare
  • Outpatient
  • Physician fee schedule
  • Physician's office
  • Surgery


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