In any business, a product must provide value. And if the product has competitors, it is sold and marketed by its value added.
I frequently consider what value I add to patient care, and how I can improve it. While some do not, most clinicians recognize that value and look for it. So we need to know what they consider valuable. One of my nonradiology colleagues recently told me she has three criteria she looks for in a good radiologist, her three “A”s:
Affability: Whether it is in patient care or communication with our colleagues, our interaction with them tells them much about us and is, in large part, our face. But beyond this, clinicians often call to speak with us or vice versa, and that may happen at times that are not convenient.
They expect a radiologist to be easy to communicate with, and helpful at all times, both for them and their staff. They are typically pressed for time and may be seeing a patient they need help with. They need their radiologic consult expedited to whatever extent possible. The last thing we want is to be a roadblock.
Availability: In a similar vein, clinicians want to talk to us when they are ready and when they need us. That can be one of the more frustrating aspects of consult medicine. When we have time, the referring MD may be unavailable.
Ultimately, we must remember we are there to facilitate care. I think of it as though when the clinician is seeing the patient, they are in my “office” too, and I need to be there to help out. That may mean keeping my cell phone on at late hours or simply being able to answer their question immediately.
Of course, we can mitigate a need for our personal services by strong internal support of one another within the group. That should be discussed and acknowledged by all in the partnership or practice, so that referring clinicians get service as quickly as possible.
Accuracy: This one is pretty straightforward. Being correct, however, is not enough. Findings and interpretation need to be delivered with knowledge sufficient to provide important information for the subspecialist.
Further, it requires continuous knowledge update so that relevant findings can not only be reported, but reported with accurate relevant anatomy, pertinent negatives and current nomenclature. That means whoever is reading for subspecialist must pursue that updating with rigor. That may require some discussion and agreement internally amongst practice members to be sure that everyone is fulfilling that requirement.