There are performance attributes that we measure well in today’s radiology practice. We are adept at tracking and analyzing clinical productivity, various revenue indicators, and compliance with programs such as meaningful use and the Physician Quality Reporting System. We have the ability to correlate profitability with payor mix, and we can target referral sources based on the volume they generate.
We still have work to do, though. Our current methods of assessing quality, for instance, fall short. While we can measure factors such as throughput and waiting times, there are very few specific measures that speak to true patient-care quality. Nonclinical productivity measurement is another area where our current methods need enhancement; radiology groups must develop a methodology for translating specific practice-building behaviors into the same kinds of productivity measurements that have long been used to assess and drive diagnostic and interventional performance.
It is, perhaps, most critical that the taking of these measurements has to be sufficiently organic to radiologists’ daily workflow so as not to impact productivity and revenue. Self-reporting is not be sustainable, in the long term, as reimbursement continues to decline and efficiency becomes more important than ever. Rather, the various informatics solutions with which radiologists interact on a daily basis need to be fully integrated and embedded in their daily workflow to allow for real-time data collection, as well as aggregation of comprehensive datasets without user prompts.
If the mechanisms for collecting vital practice intelligence are put in place properly, radiologists can focus on more meaningful tasks on a day-to-day basis—taking on more consultative roles and participating more actively on hospital boards/committees—while gaining valuable data about the entire episode of care, including patient outcomes. This, in turn, will empower them to participate in the appropriateness/utilization conversation as never before: Armed with hard data, they will be in a strong position to help define the care-delivery paradigms of the future.
Bill Pickart is CEO of Integrated Medical Partners. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.