Radiologists Seek Prestige, Lifestyle Benefits

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Peter Franklin, MDThe number-one reason cited by its radiologists for choosing a non-traditional practice setting is to align with a leading organization, according to a survey of its physicians by Radisphere, Westport, Connecticut. Running a close second and third were lifestyle/schedule flexibility and the backing of a professional support team, the poll reveals.

The ultimate indicator of practice satisfaction is the number of radiologists who would recommend the practice to others: 92% of the radiologists surveyed say that they would refer a colleague to work for Radisphere, a hybrid practice model based on remote reading and on-site radiologists.

Radisphere radiologists anonymously took the online questionnaire in July as part of an ongoing effort to gauge staff satisfaction with the company in general and with various elements of its radiology service model, in particular. Responses were fielded from 59 radiologists, a sample of respectable size in terms both of geography (survey participants were based in hospitals and remote locations throughout the United States) and of subspecialization or fellowship, such as emergency/body, musculoskeletal or neyrolofical. Nearly half (44%) had been employed for four or more years by the company.

ImagingBiz obtained an exclusive preview of the survey's results, which highlight many of the key trends that are changing the nature of radiology practice in this country.

In this time of uncertainty, fueled by health care reform, the economic downturn, and growing hospital clout, it is not surprising that the top reason given to explain why radiologists signed on with Radisphere is to belong to a leading organization.

The second-ranked reason is that Radisphere does a great job of accommodating radiologists' lifestyle needs and providing geographical flexibility. “Our remote radiologists reside across the United States, so there aren’t any geographic restrictions as to where you need to live,” said Radisphere's chairman of radiology, Peter Franklin, MD. “Our hospital-based radiologists are supported by our remote network so weekends and after-hours services are automatically covered.”

Gaining access to a professional support team is the third reason for joining Radisphere cited by the respondents. Franklin notes that it is somewhat unusual to find a group—even a large one—with a well-rounded staff of aides. “At other practices, depending on the size of the group, radiologists might have one, two, or maybe three people to assist with billing, but that’s about the extent of it,” he says. “Radiologists, for the most part, are on their own with regard to many nonclinical support activities, such as credentialing/licensing, technologist support, client-service representation, and IT troubleshooting during off hours. At Radisphere, we provide all of that support to our radiologists, so they don’t have these administrative burdens.”

Transformational Trends

The survey also serves to underscore many of the transformational trends in radiology practice today. For instance, the use of imaging informatics by practices is a growing trend, both to improve workflow and to make growth possible; as practices expand their footprints, their IT budgets also typically increase. When asked about the ability of Radisphere technologies to enhance practice patterns, 80% agree that Radisphere’s information technologies enable them to be more productive, thereby facilitating delivery of results to clients in a more-timely manner.

Franklin explains that the key IT tool that the company uses is a leading-edge application, developed by Radisphere, known as radii TM. “It provides levels of functionality that no off-the-shelf RIS or PACS can offer,” he says. “radii provides the ability for all Radisphere radiologists, on-site and remote, to share applications which is unique to radiology practice.

“In many traditional groups, radiology systems are difficult to use, not intuitive and actually slow down the radiologist," he continues. "Our systems, however, were custom built and adhere to HL7, DICOM, and other industry standards that simplify and enhance the ability of radiologists to do their work. Based on our survey findings, it’s clear we’ve made significant strides in providing our radiologists with tools that allow them to be more productive and systems that they feel very comfortable using.”

Improving the Product

Unclear radiology reports have been the subject of frequent complaints by referring physicians.