The new world order in radiology is much more about collaboration than independence, or rather, collaboration to retain independence. More and more, radiologists need to function as consultants, collaborating with other healthcare colleagues to increase their value through their expertise and best practices. Radiologists also are running their businesses with superior analytics skills, so they can better serve their customers and provide them aggregated patient information. Collectively, these actions as consultant, expert and analyst can sustain the independence of a radiology practice by highlighting the additional value it brings to the hospital system or healthcare facility it serves.
Using data collected from studies, radiologists are working closely within their own departments and with hospital administration staff, collecting and reporting data about radiation dose exposure, and using that data to adjust changes in protocols when necessary. The Dose Index Registry created by the American College of Radiology (ACR) allows facilities to compare their CT dose indices to regional and national values, and facilities are finding more sophisticated methods of collecting their internal data for analysis.
Radiologists also are using best practice data to make recommendations on appropriate studies and reducing unnecessary studies, thus reinforcing their role within mainstream patient care as radiology consultants who bring expert recommendations to the table. Speaking with a unified voice, radiologists created the ACR Appropriateness Criteria, a comprehensive, evidence-based set of guidelines for diagnostic imaging selection, radiotherapy protocols, and image guided interventional procedures. The guidelines embody the most current evidence for selecting appropriate diagnostic imaging and interventional procedures for numerous clinical conditions.
Sustaining a radiology practice for the long-term isn’t just about being profitable, it’s also about aligning with customer organizations and working collaboratively toward common goals. Measuring and monitoring aggregated patient data and reporting back to the hospital system, for example, may help them to discover or track health and utilization trends in the population they serve, as well as recognize the additional value brought in by the radiology group and reinforce the existing business relationship. Better collaboration across the board is radiology’s new mantra.