Perspectives on Quality

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Bill PickartIn the last issue of RadAnalytics, I wrote about productivity and efficiency, with an emphasis on keeping an eye to quality. I believe that those group practices that figure out the key to improving individual radiologists’ productivity (as well as overall group productivity) while adhering to patient-centered quality objectives will thrive under the new collaborative reimbursement models that we are seeing in the market.

Let me emphasize that improvements in productivity and efficiency do not have to come at the expense of quality. Quite the contrary: There are service solutions available to practices that promote simultaneous achievement of both, and these same solutions do not necessitate that radiologists work harder or for longer hours. The solution I’m thinking of allows radiologists to work smarter. Supported by well-constructed analytics and informatics to reinforce process changes, efficiency and productivity can be increased while quality is significantly enhanced.

I appreciate the responses that I received to the last issue, which had to do with the perceived limitations of traditional measurement methods for both productivity and contribution efforts by radiologists. In this issue, Paul Potok, MD, and Tom Vaughan, MD, touch upon themes raised by that commentary. On one level, Potok speaks to the critical importance of radiologist-sponsored clinical consultation in the new collaborative care and reimbursement model, referencing tools that his group has developed that account for such contributions. On another level, Vaughan makes the valid argument that contributions by radiologists that enhance practice value (within group practices) must be measured and accounted for—or the practices might not be successful, in the long term.

Activities such as hospital-board participation, referring-physician outreach/marketing, and basic practice-governance and -oversight efforts need to be recognized. With the support of a group’s members, I believe, a well-structured analytics platform can be designed to measure and track these contributions.

Two areas ripe for quantification and analysis—and central to the collaborative-care model involving higher-order imaging—are study appropriateness and utilization. Both elements heavily influence the use of imaging in patient-centered collaborative care, and as Edward Rittweger, MD, argues, it makes sense for radiologists to take the leading consultative role in the development, deployment, and measurement of outcomes.

Bill Pickart is CEO of Integrated Medical Partners. He welcomes your comments at bill.pickart@integratedmp.com.