The Numbers in Radiology

June 30, 2014

To run your practice well, you need to know your practice well.

The monthly numbers. All businesses have them. And everyone worries over them. For radiology, everyone wants to see total study numbers, total billed dollars and reimbursement. It’s natural. But it is insufficient.

A few additional pieces will give you and your group much greater clarity about the practice’s health.

• Year to year comparison is essential. We commonly see a drop in reimbursement in January and August, and everyone is alarmed when they compare to the prior month. But when you look year to year, the numbers may actually be up. The numbers are down due to seasonal variation and contraction. In fact, business is good. Ideally these can be benchmarked with national trends for similar reasons. It is one thing if everyone in your region (or nationally) is losing ground; quite another if it is just your practice.

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• Aggregate data is great. But some granularity is needed. Your practice might see growth overall, but where is it coming from? You may have a drop from one center and a rise in another, with a net increase. That’s great, but doesn’t help you figure out where to turn your attention and who is sending you more or less business.  Do you have in- and outpatient business? Give data for both. Do you provide service for independent outpatient centers? Hospitals? Both? Split out data for each.

• Exam numbers are also great. But can be misleading. We’ve had days, weeks or months with big numbers, but sometimes due to tons of plain films. Provide these by modality and center, if at all possible.

• Provide each group member with total reads for themselves and the group average. Each individual’s data need not be shared. Include gross studies, RVUs, billed and reimbursed dollars for the greatest breadth of understanding the meaning. Again, use of national benchmarks is ideal.

• Keep track of and include your payor mix - are you seeing a drop in one area? A rise? This can guide your marketing efforts and allow you to intervene if you’ve been dropped from a provider list.

• Show everyone reimbursement rates for different centers or contracts. Are you seeing growth in contracts with fixed reimbursement? Are those rates good compared to the reimbursement you are seeing for those you bill insurance? Are you getting increased numbers where you have slightly better (or worse) payor mix?

Seem like a lot of work? It is to set up, but once you have a methodology to extract the data, it actually is not onerous. You can’t make good informed business decisions on staffing, marketing and business development without data such as this. If you try to, you’ll just be lucky if you hit the mark. A well-run business is knowledgeable about itself.