Changes in Use of Radiotherapy among Dermatologists from 2013 to 2017

Khang D. Nguyen, Henry W. Chen, Adewole S. Adamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Concerns have been raised about the use of radiotherapy (RT) by dermatologists. Little is known about temporal trends in payment for RT among dermatologists. Objective: To characterize changes in RT use and payment among dermatologists treating patients enrolled in Medicare. Design, Setting, and Participants: A cross-sectional, population-based retrospective analysis of dermatologists submitting Medicare claims was conducted. Dermatologists identified in the 2013-2017 Medicare Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File, which includes information on fee-for-service payments and service use among physicians caring for Medicare beneficiaries, were included in the analysis. The study was conducted from March 18 to October 22, 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures: Numbers and types of RT, current terminology codes billed by dermatologists, number of dermatologists providing RT services, total payments and median payments per dermatologist for RT services, total services and median services per dermatologist, and number of dermatologists billing for both RT and Mohs micrographic surgery services. Results: From 2013 to 2017, dermatologists billed RT codes, which included RT planning, preparation, delivery, and management services with varying levels of complexity. The number of dermatologists using RT increased from 115 to 198 between 2013 to 2017. Total payments and total services for RT have fluctuated over time. Median payments per dermatologist and median services provided per dermatologist for RT reached their highest level in 2017 ($80810 and 629 services). In 2013, RT delivery was the highest reimbursed RT service type (total paid, $9121505). By 2017, clinical treatment planning and simulation was the highest reimbursed service type (total paid, $20288796). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this cross-sectional study indicate that dermatologist use of RT continues to increase. A wide variety of RT services are billed by dermatologists. Further research is needed to ensure expanded use is safe, efficacious, and cost-effective..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-325
Number of pages4
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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