Radiology negotiations can be complex but it’s important for practice’s to be prepared, knowledgeable, and willing to compromise, Lawrence Muroff, MD, CEO and president, Imaging Consultants, said at RSNA 2015.
Important elements in a hospital contract start with the basics. A practice needs to identify what radiology services are and have the responsibilities defined in the broadest terms, Muroff said.
The reason broad terms are important is because most of these exclusive contracts have carve-outs, Muroff said. “The carve-outs, or exclusions, should be as narrow as possible, define your services as broad as possible, define what other people can do as narrowly as possible, preferably by CPT code.”
“If you’re general with the exclusivity carve-outs, and say ‘we do everything but cardiac imaging’, a cardiologist might interpret that as saying anything that has blood in it or running through it is cardiac imaging,” Muroff said.
Another important element of the contract is definition of the radiology practice’s organizational status: a separate department or part of another entity (for example, internal medicine).
“If you’re a separate entity, you are more likely to have a seat on the executive committee,” Muroff said. “Sitting on the medical executive committee is very important in a hospital, both for academics and private practice, but particularly for private practice.”
When negotiating hospital contracts, Muroff warned against assuming that things will go as expected. While most radiology contracts are negotiated with executives from the hospital and the radiology practice, it’s important to have experts available behind the scenes to help understand the contract and prioritize what’s important to the practice.
Radiologists tend to take negotiations personally, Muroff said. But it’s important for practices to remember that hospital negotiations are usually friendly and serve to ensure that both the hospital’s and the radiology practice’s needs are met.