5 Steps to Improve Your Value-Added Reputation

September 14, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer

Industry experts offer advice on specific steps radiology can take to bolster the understanding it adds value to clinical care.

Throughout much of healthcare, radiology is frequently considered to be a cost center. But, as the concept of value-based care continues to grow – and as more institutions pivot toward pursuing this goal – there are several steps that radiology can take to boost its image as a value producer.

Several radiology experts shared and expounded upon this opinion in a Sept. 11 opinion piece published in JAMA. Not only did they outline several aspects the industry can highlight that can boost its value reputation, but they also presented multiple specific strategies that can help make those changes.

“Diagnostic radiology adds value in the clinical evaluation by refining differential diagnoses, decreasing the time required to initiate correct treatment, and ultimately contributing to reducing morbidity and mortality,” said the team of experts led by Adrian Brady, the second vice president on the European Society of Radiology’s (ESR) Board of Directors and chair of the ESR Quality, Safety, and Standards Committee. “By embracing the principles of value-based healthcare and striving to create value when possible, radiology can contribute to moving from a volume-drive system to a value-drive one, in which as many investigations or interventions as possible contribute positively to patient outcomes.”

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But, to reach that goal – and minimize the cost-center reputation – Brady and his colleagues clearly outlined five ways the industry can bring about changes.

  • Guide referring providers to a better understanding of radiology’s contributions to patient management, population benefits, and the communication of vital information.
  • Radiology researchers must add to their investigative efforts, including a focus on the clinical impact of their findings.
  • Referring providers should be held accountable for their role in the use of diagnostic imaging and the costs incurred to ensure that imaging services are applied appropriately.
  • Radiologists must educate managers on the negative results that can come from underfunding imaging services, such as service bottlenecks and care delays.
  • Ensure imaging services are being used appropriately – be prepared to directly and actively consult with referring providers to assess their requests and provide education on scan appropriateness and necessity, if needed.

And, there are several ways radiologists can accomplish this last task, they said. To help referring providers the most, radiologist should consider these tactics:

  1. Find out more about referring providers needs – turnaround time, subspecialty expertise, muti-disciplinary input – to develop stronger relationships.
  2. Use evidence-based guidelines to help referring providers request appropriate imaging.
  3. Implement consistent standards and eliminate silos to ensure radiology departments work cohesively.
  4. Use structured reporting, clinical decision support, and artificial intelligence to optimize workflow, minimize wait times, and shorten hospital stays.
  5. Talk directly with patients to answer questions and explain findings.
  6. Use information technology tools to optimize information exchange.
  7. Maintain consistent quality reporting and improvement.
  8. Actively speak up when an ordered imaging study might be inappropriate or unnecessary.
  9. Conduct research on higher-level contributions.

By implementing these suggestions, Brady's team said, the industry can make significant headway in improving the perception throughout healthcare that radiology adds more value than cost to clinical care.

“Radiology is a deeply embedded and essential part of modern patient care,” the team wrote. “Radiologists must take the principles underpinning value-based health care into account when planning, developing, and delivering services. This will require radiologists to participate in multi-specialty clinical decision making, and referring physicians to work with radiologists to ensure the most appropriate use of radiologic resources, services, and personnel.”

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