Stronger relationships between radiologists and referring clinicians can create more value

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 - Michael Walter
Michael Walter, Editor

A lot of conversations about value in radiology revolve around patients. How can specialists and their practices keep patients happy? What will make them the most comfortable?

These are important things to ask, of course, but a recent article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology is a reminder that demonstrating value to referring physicians is also absolutely crucial.

In the article, lead author David B. Larson, MD, MBA, Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues conclude that radiology practices “can increase the benefit provided to patients (the indirect recipients of their services) by maximizing the benefit provided to referring clinicians (the direct recipients of their services)” and detail several steps providers can take to better serve referring clinicians and create more overall value.

One step, for instance, is to engage with referring clinicians by forming legitimate relationships instead of simply carrying out one transaction after another and then moving on.

“Practice leaders should understand the makeup of the practice’s referral base and develop ongoing working relationships with leaders of referring clinician practices, constantly inquiring as to how well their needs are being met,” the authors wrote. “This may be accomplished through informal discussions, surveys, and unsolicited feedback. Practices should then use this information to improve their performance accordingly.”

Larson and colleagues go through several additional steps, including structuring the practice to better serve referring clinicians and working together as a unified group, and the entire article does a fantastic job of describing how an ideal radiologist/referring clinician relationship can create more value.

It’s not that imaging groups should pay less attention to their patients—it’s that they should focus on referring clinicians as well. By being on the same page as those clinicians and answering their questions quickly and with the degree of detail that is expected, you can make a significant impact on every patient those clinicians refer to your practice.