Are You Keeping Up?

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Curtis Kauffman-PickelleI don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the world is moving at a much faster pace these days. Time rips by, dates and events blend together in blurry motion, and the sheer pace of change is accelerating to a point where one needs to be constantly vigilant about staying current with all that affects our daily lives. This is especially true in medical imaging. In this profession, if you stand still, you are actually moving backward. In our particular segment of health care, medicine combines with economics, technology, engineering, science, and the various social sciences to form a profession where the confluence of these disparate endeavors creates an intellectual’s dream—and a Luddite’s nightmare. Frankly, that is much of the attraction of this profession, for most of the people I’ve encountered these past many years (29 and counting). There has always been a cerebral attraction to an industry in which the pursuits of excellence, technological advancement, and economic success are combined in a way that stimulates both the left and right sides of the brain. Today’s imaging executives and radiologists require equal measures of knowledge and talent in order to be players in this fast-paced specialty. Let’s focus for a moment on the knowledge part of the equation. In addition to the CME that keeps physicians current, what other types of ongoing educational resources are you investing in so you can stay a step ahead? I know that since you are reading this commentary, you are a reader of our monthly informational offerings on a wide range of economic and imaging business issues and trends. Occasionally, in this space, I provide reviews of relevant books and other materials that I feel will help busy executives expand their knowledge, and the writers and editors here are all committed to providing you with relevant and timely articles in each of our seven publications. Beyond this, I would like to offer a few suggestions about taking full advantage of the pace of change, about the wealth of information available, and about how you might put yourself in a better position to succeed by embracing change and using it to your advantage. Take business intelligence, for example: Not too many years ago, it was not unusual for a conversation with a practice leader on the status of referral volume to revolve around guesstimates based on volume today versus volume last week—or yesterday, or maybe even last month. With today’s end-to-end business-intelligence models, sophisticated RIS, dashboards, informatics platforms, and analytics software, it is possible to manage the business of radiology and stay many steps ahead. Practices that take advantage of these tools are at a distinct advantage over those remaining in the mom-and-pop model, trying to keep up and manage by the seats of their pants. It’s interesting that this method once worked just fine for most practices, but it is no longer an option for those who want to succeed in a profession that is moving at warp speed. The questions, then, are these: Do you have a business-intelligence strategy? How are you exploiting the availability of knowledge and data to drive your success plans? Have you embraced the pace of change and built a modern practice around sharp focus, service, and adding value to the information that you produce? If not, I have no idea how you will manage to keep up—unless you get these initiatives moving with a real sense of urgency. The days of mom-and-pop–style complacency are long gone. Curtis Kauffman-Pickelle is publisher of and Radiology Business Journal, and is a 25-year veteran of the medical-imaging industry. He welcomes your comments at