Rapid reports improve center profits

May 8, 1991

Medical imaging centers could reap several benefits through automatingand expediting the writing of radiological reports: faster reports mean faster billing, which may speedup reimbursement; computerized inputting of reports reduces staff

Medical imaging centers could reap several benefits through automatingand expediting the writing of radiological reports:

  • faster reports mean faster billing, which may speedup reimbursement;

  • computerized inputting of reports reduces staff costsfor transcription; and

  • efficient report writing appeals to referring physicians.This can be a marketing plus that boosts a center's referral base.

Both hospital radiology departments and freestanding outpatientimaging centers could realize these advantages of computerizedradiological report writing. But imaging center managers are moreapt to seek out innovations and efficiency enhancements than theirhospital counterparts. They are also unencumbered by the competingmanagement and information demands of nonimaging departments,said Daniel Springer, director of marketing for Professional ComputerSystems of Littleton, CO.

Imaging center managers tend to be entrepreneurs who look forinnovative ways to raise revenues and cut costs. This is the mainreason PCS has targeted the outpatient imaging center market forsales of its Statcomm radiology report writing, billing and archivalsystem, he said.

"They (center managers) are constantly seeking innovations,"Springer said.

PCS was incorporated in 1983 by Floyd L. Burton, chairman andpresident, as a successor to Professional Systems Associates,formed two years earlier. PSA introduced a voice-activated radiologyreport-writing system in 1981. The company shifted its technologyto a PC base in 1988 and formed two limited partnerships to funddevelopment and commercialization of the Statcomm system, introducedin 1989.

Springer was hired last August to coordinate the Statcomm salesand marketing effort. He has been active in the medical industryfor 12 years, with sales and marketing experience at Fischer Imaging,Philips Medical and Mountain Medical Equipment.

Statcomm is installed at 15 medical imaging sites and usedby about 30 radiologists, he said. Depending on the hardware requirements,the system costs $15,500 to $80,000.

While PCS originally focused on voice recognition technologyfor report inputting, the computer firm found that radiologistswanted something more flexible and easier to use. Statcomm offersthe radiologist four input options: voice, keyboard, mouse andtouch screen.

The system can serve as an independent radiology informationsystem or as the front-end/billing mechanism of an existing radiologyinformation system or RIS network linking multiple centers, Springersaid. PCS is negotiating with multicenter management firms foruse of Statcomm on a regional or system-wide basis, he said.

Radiological reports can be transmitted to referring physiciansover a center's existing teleradiology link or by fax. PCS istalking with teleradiology companies about offering Statcomm asa regular option in a medical image transmission package, Springersaid.

The base of outpatient medical imaging centers in the U.S.has grown from about 100 in 1985 to over 1500, with new centerscontinuing to open, he said. Despite these centers' large capitalinvestments in imaging equipment, however, many sites resist purchasingcomputerized report systems.

"It is ironic that, with all the available technology,and expenditures of up to $6 million for imaging equipment, itstill takes days to produce a written report. This is one of themost critical factors for the success rate of outpatient imagingcenters," Springer said.