How to Really Add Value

November 18, 2011

Yes, going above and beyond will stand you in good stead. Swift and efficient service, subspecialty reads that go the extra mile, and adaptation to the specific needs of your customers are some of the oft-recommended gestures in this regard. To those of us actually doing the work, though, it’s gotten about as trite as old chestnuts like “work smarter, not harder.” If everyone’s doing it, how much can you stand out by doing the same?

“The vital role of radiologists must be better understood.”

“Hospitals should consider the value-added services of their radiology groups.”

“We must provide value-added services beyond just interpreting exams.”

Have you heard enough of this stuff, yet? Of course, it all makes sense - doing your bare minimum in our competitive field might jeopardize your survival, forget about soaring with the eagles.

Yes, going above and beyond will stand you in good stead. Swift and efficient service, subspecialty reads that go the extra mile, and adaptation to the specific needs of your customers are some of the oft-recommended gestures in this regard.

To those of us actually doing the work, though, it’s gotten about as trite as old chestnuts like “work smarter, not harder.” If everyone’s doing it, how much can you stand out by doing the same?

No, if you really want your added value to stand out, it needs to be something that your competitors have not added. Since our reports are our major product, they seem to be the most convenient vehicle for extra goodies.

Here’s an idea. Why not borrow a trick from Chinese restaurants? Have your computers start randomly inserting cookie-style fortunes at the bottom of your reports. They can even be tailored to the medical field: “You will make an amazing diagnosis soon,” for instance, or “Your next callshift will be an easy one.” Even the fortune cookies started offering added value at some point by throwing in lucky (lottery) numbers; you can have a random-number generator do the same.

Other fun diversions could grace the margins of your reports, too. Jokes, brain teasers, words of the day, or bits of trivia could be in the rotation. You could carry announcements for community events (“Don’t forget - Breast Cancer Awareness Walk is next Saturday! Call our office for details”), or even paid advertising as long as you made sure you weren’t violating any kickback laws. If anybody in your office has a kid with artistic talent, maybe you could feature a regular comic strip.

Some killjoys will say that such antics would be demeaning, and that as professionals we should be above them. To each his own, of course; they are welcome to go back to their committee meetings and continue to wring their hands about what other desperate flailings they might next undertake to offer “added value” to their services.

Or (gasp!) some might say that enough gimmickry is enough, and that providing quality reads with professionalism, coupled with a readiness to adapt to referrers’ needs, is all that it should take to remain competitive. To paraphrase a rather successful individual in the restaurant biz: Give people good service at a fair price, and they’ll come back to you.