UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Surgeon leadership in the coding, billing, and contractual negotiations for fenestrated endovascular aortic aneurysm repair increases medical center contribution margin and physician reimbursement

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type





BACKGROUND: Fenestrated endovascular aneurysm repair (FEVAR) allows endovascular treatment of thoracoabdominal and juxtarenal aneurysms previously outside the indications of use for standard devices. However, because of considerable device costs and increased procedure time, FEVAR is thought to result in financial losses for medical centers and physicians. We hypothesized that surgeon leadership in the coding, billing, and contractual negotiations for FEVAR procedures will increase medical center contribution margin (CM) and physician reimbursement.

METHODS: At the UMass Memorial Center for Complex Aortic Disease, a vascular surgeon with experience in medical finances is supported to manage the billing and coding of FEVAR procedures for medical center and physician reimbursement. A comprehensive financial analysis was performed for all FEVAR procedures (2011-2015), independent of insurance status, patient presentation, or type of device used. Medical center CM (actual reimbursement minus direct costs) was determined for each index FEVAR procedure and for all related subsequent procedures, inpatient or outpatient, 3 months before and 1 year subsequent to the index FEVAR procedure. Medical center CM for outpatient clinic visits, radiology examinations, vascular laboratory studies, and cardiology and pulmonary evaluations related to FEVAR were also determined. Surgeon reimbursement for index FEVAR procedure, related adjunct procedures, and assistant surgeon reimbursement were also calculated. All financial analyses were performed and adjudicated by the UMass Department of Finance.

RESULTS: The index hospitalization for 63 FEVAR procedures incurred $2,776,726 of direct costs and generated $3,027,887 in reimbursement, resulting in a positive CM of $251,160. Subsequent related hospital procedures (n = 26) generated a CM of $144,473. Outpatient clinic visits, radiologic examinations, and vascular laboratory studies generated an additional CM of $96,888. Direct cost analysis revealed that grafts accounted for the largest proportion of costs (55%), followed by supplies (12%), bed (12%), and operating room (10%). Total medical center CM for all FEVAR services was $492,521. Average surgeon reimbursements per FEVAR from 2011 to 2015 increased from $1601 to $2480 while the surgeon payment denial rate declined from 50% to 0%. Surgeon-led negotiations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during 2015 resulted in a 27% increase in physician reimbursement for the remainder of 2015 ($2480 vs $3068/case) and a 91% increase in reimbursement from 2011 ($1601 vs $3068). Assistant surgeon reimbursement also increased ($266 vs $764). Concomitant FEVAR-related procedures generated an additional $27,347 in surgeon reimbursement.

CONCLUSIONS: Physician leadership in the coding, billing, and contractual negotiations for FEVAR results in a positive medical center CM and increased physician reimbursement.

DOI of Published Version



J Vasc Surg. 2017 Apr 5. pii: S0741-5214(17)30343-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2017.01.042. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of vascular surgery

PubMed ID