Health Reform and Radiology

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”- Joseph Campbell

Everyone seems to have an article or a webinar regarding radiology, imaging and future trends in health reform, accountable care organizations (ACOs) and meaningful use. Everyone has a slightly different take on the issues, however there are certain things which I believe are important key ideas to take away.

My 5 top take away ideas and concepts in health reform and radiology are:

1. Quality is king! This is true, however; this quality has to be coupled with low cost. Also, that quality has to be able to be measured and those metrics have to be in a format which is able to be compared across imaging and clinical services. Remember, payers and hospital systems are going to be important players in these new areas and they must be convinced of your high level of quality as well as your claims of low-cost and cost containment ability.

2. Efficiency must be coupled to effectiveness. As was mentioned in a previous blog, just getting faster and turning out more work will not be acceptable. Coupled to quality, efficiency must be aligned with the care of the patient. This equals effectiveness. In other words, is what we are doing still effectively diagnosing disease and treating patients?

3. Change will be the only constant. Keeping your current radiology practice as it is, is not an option. If you want to be an engineer or architect of the new paradigm in which you will practice, you must be involved. Decisions are made by those who show up. So, show up! Everywhere and all the time.

4. Understand the concept. Don’t just gloss over the latest review articles and pick up the buzzwords. Dig deep. Get into the process and understand it completely. There are a lot of variables in the changes that are being proposed, and a better understanding of these variables and the overall philosophy, as well as the goal, will help you position your group for the future.

5. You will be paid differently. The way we have been paid in the past will not be the way we get paid in the future. Again, understanding the different concepts of payment from fee-for-service, fee-for-service with shared savings, fee-for-service with shared gain/risk, negotiated bundled payments, pay for performance and full capitation should be reviewed and as thoroughly understood as possible.

Changes in healthcare are inevitable. How we meet those changes and whether we are prepared for them will determine the future of radiology.

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