What are your immediate objectives for VRAD in your new position?
I don’t care what we’ve historically been known as, I want to make sure that in the future [physicians] consider us a listening and a responsive organization as it relates to delivering our care appropriately.
When I was with US Oncology, we had various networking opportunities with groups of physicians that had some commonality of interest or purpose. It would be nice to talk to everybody, but if you can’t do that…I want to make sure…they understand that it’s important to me that regardless of who they talk to in the organization that this process is worth their time; that they get a sense that there’s a dialogue that we want to establish in this. I want to begin with the established groups and physician councils and get up to speed with that.
What are the biggest changes you foresee on the near horizon in the field of teleradiology?
I think the pressure of reimbursement isn’t going to go away. As you look at that, it affects hospitals, health systems, individual radiologists and radiology groups.
With that, it’s important for us to understand that the history of both organizations (Nighthawk Radiology and VRAD) was oriented around the teleradiology market: a little bit of day time, a little bit of mid-hawk time, a lot of night time. It’s a different sort of time and involvement than the day-to-day interaction of an onsite radiology group that’s residents at a hospital.
We can, with economic pressures, help radiology groups see the opportunities to extend themselves from a quality standpoint with competent people…to expand their hours. Hospitals may not be as fearful of…entrenched relationships [that are] potentially influenced by something other than the relationships that physicians had with medical staff and service levels.
You can bring an equivalent level of quality of service to a rural environment that you can have in an existing urban environment by virtue of this network of radiologists we have, three-quarters of which are subspecialty trained. Rural and extended marketplaces can be extended in the long run.
I think the fact that we can establish these relationships with high-quality radiologists and keep them professionally engaged in serving, distance and location not being as important as they used to be.
How quickly do you foresee the company financials improving after your date of hire?
I certainly hope so. I think that one of the things that is important is that last week I was drinking from the fire hose in trying to get a sense of things here. This company was afforded a lot of change in an 18-month period of time. They’ve been through the hard part of an integration. When I joined U.S. Oncology, there was a merger, but the integration had never happened. So here we’ve been able to hit the ground running.
There’s an enthusiastic, smart group of people that have already identified a bunch of things that we need to do. The key is going to be keeping our eyes focused on the things we can do extremely well and do[ing] them and mov[ing] on to the next rather than look for a list of things to do. I think if we serve them, the financials will come.
Do you envision making any changes to VRAD’s current course?
The good thing about VRAD is that as a company we are privately held, so…I communicate with…a small number [of people] as opposed to a large group of shareholders. I came from an environment where we took a public company private…and I saw what we could accomplish when we weren’t concerned with [financial] regression lines.
In this world of radiology, what it has been, and how it was conducted among groups and physicians and payers, I think a change is going to come very rapidly; most importantly, that we have solid relationships with the radiologists themselves. It’s still about doing accurate, timely reads. We’ll never lose sight of that being the most important thing.
These companies, VRAD and Nighthawk, have a long history of serving the radiology community. They’ve created a substantial base that we can build on. At the same time, I want to make sure that [among] the radiology community and all the constituents involved, we want to be understood as a player who listens to the needs that people have, that we