Meaningful Relationships

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 - Claudette Lew
Claudette Lew, Associate Editor

While Meaningful Use is certainly dominating the headlines these days, perhaps it's “meaningful relationships” that should be the focus of independent radiology practices. Hospitals and health systems are acquiring physician groups and integrating with them at a faster pace than in the past, leading to fewer and fewer independent practices. Speakers at the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) Summit earlier this month acknowledged the trend and suggested that to maintain sustainable (and profitable) independent practices, radiologists should fully understand their market, their competition and their customers and interact with the intentions of building trusting relationships. These are all solid foundations for the long-term success of their practices.

Productivity alone will not be enough to demonstrate radiologists’ value under the new healthcare laws. Understanding the vision, mission, and core values of the hospital system customer and aligning them with the goals of the radiology practice to offer a shared set of objectives, in addition to increasing efforts to comply with data collection and quality measures, will lead to more collaborative relationships. 

One general session at the RBMA Summit provided a look at new integration models for radiology in which groups collaborate with one another to share resources while maintaining autonomy from an operational perspective. Radiologists speaking on the panel discussed how they believe their participation in this new type of joint venture will allow for sustainable independence for each of their practices. Through collaborative efforts, independent practices can share resources that enable them to leverage specialty offerings, and importantly, integrate data that can demonstrate their collective value in improving patients’ health outcomes.

Radiology practices possess the data needed to inform the various providers all along the healthcare process. From the time a study is ordered to consulting with the referring physician throughout the care cycle to being a resource to the patient, practices possess the clinical data and information that support integrating with EMR and other clinical systems to track utilization, diagnostics, clinical and quality data and financial metrics. Engaging in meaningful relationships with hospital systems and other radiology practices will help ensure the sustainable success of independent radiology practices as the system transitions to value-based healthcare.