With the shift to value-based care and mounting regulatory pressures affecting the healthcare industry, healthcare organizations are looking for best practices to help them navigate today’s ever-changing environment. They don’t need to look far: medical imaging providers can offer their colleagues in the rest of healthcare a cogent picture of successful strategies.
Medical imaging has been the veritable poster child for payment reform and healthcare reform since 2005, when the Deficit Reduction Act
began levying huge reimbursement cuts. Radiology providers have since had to focus on the nuts and bolts of their business
not just to thrive, but also just to stay in business. Now, hospitals are starting to feel the pinch of value-based purchasing
and specialties are starting to feel the pinch of bundled payments and consolidation. Here are a few nuggets medical imaging providers can teach them on how to get along:
- Network, and not just with other physicians. Amid all of today’s consolidation and formation of ACOs as well as the onset of narrow networks, most providers know the importance of building relationships with their colleagues. Such partnerships and referral networks are critical to any provider’s success. What imaging providers can teach other specialties, however, is the need to also build relationships with patients, both current and prospective. Just to cite one example, we’re seeing women’s health clinics hosting manicure/pedicure parties to convince more women in their communities to get mammograms at their facility instead of at competing clinics across town.
- Make interoperability a priority. Reimbursement cuts have forced radiologists to look at technology for ways to streamline their business and better serve their customers. And so it is with other specialties. If you’re a radiologist and you’ve just discovered a brain tumor or an aneurysm on a patient’s CT scan, you are the first doctor to see that, and it’s critical to let the referring doctor know about it ASAP. It’s a patient care issue, it’s a service issue and it’s a liability issue. As a result, we’re seeing radiology providers’ focus on interoperability on an unprecedented level by implementing technologies that enable them to communicate findings instantaneously. The same technologies are simplifying the processes surrounding referral and ordering, which is a huge pain point in healthcare. Meaningful Use Stage 3 could certainly serve as an accelerant to the adoption of these technologies, but medical imaging has much to teach the rest of healthcare about how these tools can improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
- Centralize data storage and access. Imaging has learned that the image you take today is meaningless unless you can see what the same image looked like yesterday. This is especially true with cancer treatment, heart disease and other chronic illnesses where it’s important to track tumor regression, plaque buildup and other conditions.
Imaging can speak to the benefits of technology that centrally stores image data
and other patient information and provides easy, convenient viewing of priors and access to that data through vendor neutral archives
, zero-download viewers
and other tools, which are increasingly important to data lifecycle management.
These are by no means the only lessons for healthcare, but they’re a good place to start. Soon, millions of people will be shopping for their own care, and every provider has to be paying attention to the impact on their practice. This is a new world order, and it could decimate a practice that’s not prepared for it.
What strategies are you implementing to prepare for this long and overdue new world order?