Focused on improving radiologist and group efficiency and quality
Radiologists are the most expensive resource a radiology group possesses. Each radiologist must perform at their maximum efficiency in order to provide the greatest benefit to the group.
There are a finite number of hours available in each day and inefficient radiologists cost their colleagues and partners time that could be used to make calls to clients, take extra time with patients, work with hospital administration or serve on committees. All of these nonreading/nonproductive tasks take away precious productive time but are required for radiology groups to maintain their leadership roles in radiology and imaging. Increasing efficiency is what buys the time needed to perform these additional tasks.
Efficiency is not something we are taught in residency or fellowship; however, it can be taught. At the same time, improving efficiency, if taught and developed correctly has the added benefit of improved accuracy and quality.
Our programs on improving efficiency and quality include:
- Voice recognition training to ensure maximum use and efficiency of voice recognition. Not just training the system but training the radiologist to use the system.
- Developing personalized macros and templates for radiologists provides the structured and organized reports demanded by hospital administration, clinicians and patients who will very soon have direct access to our reports.
- Group personalized templates and macros that can be used to improve billing with CPT codes and descriptions accompanying each report.
- The ability to produce reports that can easily be data mined to generate information that will improve understanding of individual clinician and clinician group usage of imaging in general and specific types of imaging, hours and days of utilization. This type of data can then be used to target clinicians for improving utilization and pro viding more information regarding appropriateness and decision support.
In years past, radiology groups felt secure and relatively bulletproof if they provided adequate reports with adequate accuracy. This is no longer the case. Even groups with a long history with a hospital or hospital system are losing their contracts; however, this is largely preventable if issues are recognized early and corrected in a timely fashion.
Unfortunately, most groups don't know they're sick until they're dead. Amazingly, most groups who lose their contracts or find their contracts are in jeopardy, are surprised to hear the news. Reviews of operations for efficiency and quality, developing and maintaining a governance system that focuses on raising individual and group standards and ensuring hospital administration and clinician relationships are maintained and grown cannot be performed too often, nor taken seriously enough. These are the things that will, in the long run make or break a group or individual radiologist if not done well.
OPERATIONS AND ORGANIZATION
In order to achieve maximum efficiency, organizing and coordinating your practice including teleradiology is of the utmost importance. Organization and coordination will help groups take maximum advantage of their subspecialty radiologists and improve reporting turnaround times.
There is a two-fold focus which includes:
- Organization and coordination of onsite practices and teleradiology operations
Reviewing operational needs with personnel, including radiologists ensures a balance between the administrative and clinical needs of the group and the group's clients are maintained.
Satisfaction with the group doesn't begin with the radiologist, it begins with the "simple things" like ease of ordering examinations and getting results. These are commonly some of the hardest things to keep track of and frequently the blind spot of the radiology group; and if not reviewed and managed on a regular basis, can be a significant source of dissatisfaction for clinicians and patients alike.
Nearly every radiology group uses teleradiology in some way. Organizing and coordinating the use of teleradiology for maximum efficiency will decrease costs while improving quality by ensuring the right radiologist reads the right study at the right time.
Using the right radiology information system (RIS) and picture archive and communication system (PACS) is extremely important. One size doesn't necessarily fit all as efficiency and cost do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Rightsizing your RIS/PACS for your organization and needs will decrease costs and ensure the type of return on investment groups expect.
Governance is one of the most overlooked and yet one of the most important aspects of group practice. Ensuring that policies and procedures are followed by all members of the group is important in maintaining collegiality and operating efficiency.
Appropriate governance ensures that all members of the group, regardless of status e.g. employee or partner, have clear responsibilities and authority and expectations are specifically understood. It also ensures that all members understand the group’s mission and vision and each member's individual role and obligation to carry out the group's responsibilities to their clients each and every day.
Relationships between individual radiologists and the group, and the group relationships with their clients including clinicians and clinician groups, hospital administration and patients is clearly a necessity today. Yet, these relationships are many times overlooked or not developed appropriately or adequately to generate a return on investment to the radiology group.
Great relationships between the group and hospital administration leads to stability and maintenance of the group contract as well as the opportunity to participate with the hospital and the hospital system on future opportunities. The amount of time required is small but the return on investment can be huge, and in many cases can be the difference between maintaining the contract or losing the contract for hospital services.
Great relationships between the radiology group and clinician groups as well as individual radiologists with individual clinicians are something that are cultivated over time. Many groups shy away from this, again because of the concern about the amount of time required. Actually, if done correctly, these interactions can be focused around leisure or other nonwork activities.
In general, these relationships decrease stress on both parties through a deeper and better understanding of motives and potential opportunities and less likelihood of attacks or turf wars that can cost a radiology group significant time, and again possible loss of contract for services with the hospital or hospital system.