Some radiologists perceive vRad as dwelling on the “Dark Side” of our profession. In the past, I may have counted myself among those skeptics. Today I see the light and am happy to share a place among the converts.
We’re not so different
I’m not certain how vRad may have earned such a sinister reputation among traditional practitioners. My guess would be they see it as a big corporation accountable to shareholders, and, therefore, less focused on patient care than the typical private practice.
Most of my career to date has been in what would be widely recognized as private practice. I’ve come to realize there’s not a great deal of difference in how they operate versus vRad. Both organizations exist to provide clinicians and patients with diagnostic insight. And both are equally concerned with their bottom lines. In the medical industry, effective administration – managing operational expenses, payroll, infrastructure, compliance, cash flow – is essential to enable the delivery of quality care.
Simply put, whether your practice has 5 radiologists or 500, if you can’t pay the electric bill, you’re not in a position to help many patients today. And if you aren’t profitable, the ability to deliver high quality care will be compromised over the long term.
Living a patient-centric culture
My grandpa was a radiologist, engendering more than a little influence on my choice of career. His guide was to always see the patient behind the image. I carry that with me every day.
In my experience, vRad is driven to empower radiologists to better focus on patient care. vRad systems and processes are designed to eliminate distractions, ensuring my eyes are on each individual patient. In fact, focus on the individual is core to the vRad culture.
From day one, the training and support staff at vRad worked closely with me to ensure my readiness to help patients to my full capabilities. In most organizations, training involves rote instruction regarding “this is how we do things here.” At vRad, the focus was on me and optimizing my ability to take care of patients. My support team shadowed me virtually for the first few hours, then offered advice regarding how the vRad system could adapt to align with my style and preferences.
The team was always available via video phone to answer any questions or concerns. When I had some issues with voice recognition – the headset wasn’t comfortable for me and somehow the acoustics and my voice just were not working with the desktop microphone – a new microphone arrived the next day. They explained that 90% of users have no issues with the initial mic they sent, but they had been testing an alternate mic for those that might have trouble. The new one works wonderfully.
While I strive to see the patient behind the image, I am assured that vRad strives to see each individual within this organization.
Freedom to practice in my own style
Setting aside my prior misconceptions, I see many instances in which vRad optimally positions us to help improve patient care. vRad allows me the flexibility to focus on what I do best and enjoy most, and provides the resources to hone my professional skills and expand my capabilities. Reading from my home office, I feel more connected with colleagues than ever before, and am building valued relationships every day.
Here are some examples of how working with vRad enables me to be the radiologist I want to be.
Promoting personal and professional development. It has always been important to me to invest time in developing and advancing radiology through involvement in professional associations. (Grandpa had a little influence here, as well.) I am currently active at both the state and national levels, and have been throughout my career. From the start, Ben Strong, vRad’s chief medical officer, embraced, encouraged, and valued this commitment.
Making the call. I am more apt than most radiologists to reach out to a referring physician or PA. That’s just my style. In many cases, a call helps me clarify my understanding, and I find clinicians really appreciate the interaction. At vRad, nobody’s looking over my shoulder saying, “Don’t call results. Just keep reading.” If I have some inkling that I think I ought to talk to somebody, I just hit two clicks and in a few moments have that person on the phone. It’s good to know they can reach me just as easily. Though I’m technically working from home, I’m still here for them, in every essence of what that means.
Choosing and releasing cases. With vRad, I choose the types of cases where I can provide the best insight. I can release cases best examined by radiologists with other specialized expertise. For me, this means a steady stream of reads that leverage my musculoskeletal subspecialty expertise, in addition to general diagnostic cases. At a smaller practice, it’s more likely that an initial read is done by the generalist on duty, with the recommendation for later follow-up when the specialist becomes available. At vRad, when a musculoskeletal or abdominal or brain study is requested, it is more likely that the initial study can be done by someone with the appropriate subspecialty training and certification. For patients and clinicians, that means faster, more precise diagnoses for more informed treatment plans.
The opposite of remote. I am energized by interacting with others. I was concerned that a home office would feel like a remote island, disconnected from the people I so enjoy working with. Not so. From day one, the onboarding team made sure I was linked to the people and resources I need. I find video links really bridge geographic barriers. At my fingertips are engaged colleagues, advisors, mentors, physicians – a community of friends who support me in the practice of radiology. There’s a collegiality here that is really wonderful.
All that, and my commute to work has been cut to about 8 seconds. I couldn’t be happier about becoming a teleradiologist with vRad.
Kay “Katie” Lozano, MD, FACR
Diagnostic Radiologist, vRad
ABR Certified. Musculoskeletal fellowship, University of California San Diego. Dr. Lozano is a career-long advocate for her profession in radiological and medical associations at local and national levels. She was recently President of the Colorado Medical Society, and currently serves on the American Medical Association Radiology Section Council Executive Committee. She is also Vice Chair of Doctors Care, a Denver clinic for the uninsured and underinsured, and served on the American College of Radiology Ethics Committee for over a decade. Following the advice of her grandfather, radiologist Dr. Peter E. Hiebert, Dr. Lozano strives to always see the patient behind the image.