2018 Planning Guides: Recommended Reading for Modern Radiology Practices

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 - Kent Thomas
Kent Thomas - Vice President, Solutions and Business Development

Heading into the economically and politically turbulent year that 2018 is sure to be, radiology practices need all the navigational help they can get if they want to not only survive, but thrive in these uncertain times. In-depth assists are available, for free, from vRad for those dealing with staffing shortages, data security concerns, final-read demands and overall practice-performance issues. Here are descriptions and links to online resources that will help practice leaders navigate the course to becoming a high performance radiology practice.

SURVIVE THE RADIOLOGIST STAFFING CRUNCH

If your radiology practice or department is struggling with staffing issues, it’s not alone. In much of the U.S., the specialty is dealing with one of the most competitive buyer’s markets in years. This was confirmed by the American College of Radiology’s annual workforce survey for 2017 and buttressed by Merritt Hawkins research. The latter showed the current radiologist population aging and leaving by attrition even as working radiologists’ average base salaries trend upward, making candidates all the pickier about where, when and how they practice.

Explore your options in a vRad how-to guide co-authored by medical staffing experts at Merritt Hawkins. Staffing Strategies for a Tightening Radiologist Hiring Market will help you size up your top options—traditional recruitment vs. teleradiology vs. locum tenens—and even consider some of the unique personal characteristics that make millennial radiologists tick.

Adding to the challenge of filling radiologists’ open workstations is the growing supply of young radiologists who are subspecialized. In many cases, they’re only reluctantly flexible about branching out from their respective comfort zones. Learn how one practice solved staffing issues largely stemming from this particular challenge in an imagingBiz article sponsored by vRad and written by healthcare journalist Michael Walter. In “Now Hiring? Don’t Let Today’s Market Challenges Hold You Back,” the leader of a 22-member practice in Florida lays out the market dynamics that created the challenge and discusses the degree to which money matters in solving it. More important yet, he describes the role of relationships in keeping a rad practice humming on the strength of an open mind combined with an innovative staffing option.

BOLSTER DATA PRIVACY AND SECURITY

The healthcare organization of any kind that has a digital footprint and hasn’t been targeted by cyber bad guys is an increasingly rare species. Ransomware has become a scourge all its own. It’s hit 15 percent of healthcare enterprises, and that’s second only to the financial sector. The good news is that your practice needn’t be the next victim. If you’re concerned and motivated, both of which you should be, resources abound to help you stay one step ahead of the wrongdoers. One of the most comprehensive is aimed specifically at radiology providers and available online in the form of an easy-to-follow how-to guide. It’s co-authored by Patrick Williamson, vRad’s chief security officer and senior director of IT, and John Gomez, chief executive officer of Sensato Cybersecurity Solutions. Information Privacy and Security for Imaging Providers walks practice leadership through the problem and its best-practice preventions from a high-level perspective. Further, the guide equips technical team members with expert-level know-how on systems management as well as data and network security. If you don’t know how quickly and effectively your practice could contain a breach—and fully recover from it—you would do well to read this guide at your soonest possible convenience.

RECEIVE FINAL RADIOLOGY REPORTS AT ALL HOURS

Three common myths prevail when it comes to radiology practices turning to teleradiologists for final interpretations: 1.) final interpretations are much more expensive than preliminary reads; 2.) practices who outsource their final interpretations risk losing their hospital contracts; 3.) final reads take significantly more time and slow down emergency work. These myths get an easy dispelling—and their countervailing facts get a good airing out—in Final Teleradiology Interpretations: A Benefits Guide for Healthcare Providers. The guide is published by vRad, with input from several of its final-read clients, and it’s worth a read by any radiology practice leader who hasn’t finished squashing inefficiencies and/or lifting quality throughout the practice. One striking factoid from the guide: vRad, which is as telling a bellwether as any in telemedicine, is now signing on more than 75 percent of its new clients for finals-only services.

After you’ve gone through the guide, be sure to read a case study focused on one of the vRad clients who contributed input. Asked whether final-read teleradiology services endanger hospital contracts, Jeff Kinlaw, CEO of 12-rad Atlantic Radiology Associates in Georgia, explains his partner hospitals rely on the practice not only for reads but other services too. “If you’re really afraid that someone working nights and weekends is going to take your contract from you,” Kinlaw adds, “I would say the level of service you provide during the day is not adequate.”

BUILD A HIGH PERFORMANCE RADIOLOGY PRACTICE

As technological change, economic uncertainty and policy pressures continue to reshape the face of radiology, practices that are merely good enough are at real risk of failing to survive, much less thrive. Only those that distinguish themselves as high performers are right to feel sanguine about the future of their livelihood. The good news is that just about any practice can rise to this challenge once its leaders make up their minds to do so. Learn about the objective and subjective measures that mark a radiology practice as high performing—and find out how to meet each one—in Becoming a High Performance Radiology Practice: A How-To Guide. This one-of-a-kind publication, authored by vRad medical director Raymond Montecalvo, MD, offers plenty of motivation to go along with the practical and immediately applicable information.

For more on what vRad can do for you and your practice—beyond staffing, securing, final reading and overall performing—visit vRad.com.