Provider variability in intensity modulated radiation therapy utilization among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States

Stephen R. Grant, Benjamin D. Smith, Anna O. Likhacheva, Shervin M. Shirvani, David B. Rosen, B. Ashleigh Guadagnolo, Dean A. Shumway, Emma B. Holliday, Daniel Chamberlain, Gary V. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In this study, we sought to examine the variation in intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) use among radiation oncology providers. Methods and materials: The Medicare Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File was queried for radiation oncologists practicing during 2014. Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System code 77301 was designated as IMRT planning with metrics including number of total IMRT plans, rate of IMRT utilization, and number of IMRT plans per distinct beneficiary. Results: Of 2759 radiation oncologists, the median number of total IMRT plans was 26 (mean, 33.4; standard deviation, 26.2; range, 11-321) with a median IMRT utilization rate of 36% (mean, 43%; standard deviation, 25%; range, 4% to 100%) and a median number of IMRT plans per beneficiary of 1.02 (mean, 1.07; range, 1.00-3.73). On multivariable analysis, increased IMRT utilization was associated with male sex, academic practice, technical fee billing, freestanding practice, practice in a county with 21 or more radiation oncologists, and practice in the southern United States (P <.05). The top 1% of users (28 providers) billed a mean 181 IMRT plans with an IMRT utilization rate of 66% and 1.52 IMRT plans per beneficiary. Of these 28 providers, 24 had billed technical fees, 25 practiced in freestanding clinics, and 20 practiced in the South. Conclusions: Technical fee billing, freestanding practice, male sex, and location in the South were associated with increased IMRT use. A small group of outliers shared several common demographic and practice-based characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e329-e336
JournalPractical Radiation Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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