Surviving in a Tough Market

June 23, 2011

Advice from Andy Savo on negotiating the new marketplace

Economic times are tough even for radiologists, but attendees of the recent Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) annual meeting heard first-hand some strategies for maintaining success.
Andy Savo, a senior imaging specialist with GE Healthcare and a frequent speaker on radiology, offered tips that can strengthen your practice when many patients are delaying diagnostic tests, says Kathy Hunt, president of the SNM’s Technologist Section.

“We asked Andy [Savo] to come and speak because we knew he would provide an upbeat message on how we can best serve our patients during these complicated times,” Hunt says. “Through is presentation, he helped our members reflect on their actions and take a look to see how they impact not only their patients, but other radiologists, as well.”

The current changes in health care present many challenges, she says, and Savo’s recommendations can guide you as you search for your place in the new playing field.

As simple as it sounds, Savo says, the most important thing you can do is smile at your patients, engage them, and make them feel comfortable. Patients feel vulnerable, and knowing that you care is often more important to them than knowing how experienced you are. Also, offer to answer any questions they might have either before or after the imaging is complete.

It’s also important to remember your staff, Savo says.

“At the end of the day, your office is a team, and that team is a family,” he says. “You are all working toward a common goal – providing a quality service. Find the individual strengths of each of your staff, and make them feel empowered in their job. Don’t just tell them their job responsibilities; give them the resources and leeway to do their work.”

Don’t be afraid to discuss what may or may not be working in your practice, as well. Identify the “wins” for your office and work together to maximize them, Savo says. For example, if your office has a knack for pulling together and helping patients and their families work with the hospital, make sure you offer to do so.

“In this market, even the slightest edge is critical,” he says. “When patients have a choice of where they can go for care, it’s the small things that begin to matter.”

Savo’s suggestions are particularly important, Hunt says, because diagnostic technology is changing rapidly, requiring your technologists to learn new machinery and, in some cases, protocols. Reimbursement reductions have also altered technologists’ positions. Many jobs have been eliminated, making interpersonal skills paramount for those seeking work.

“Hybrid diagnostics in nuclear medicine have greatly impacted technologists in the field,” Hunt says. “We had several unemployed technologists who were looking for work at our meeting, and Andy’s message about a positive attitude and doing all that we can for the patients will be impactful.”

Most importantly, Savo says, remember to treat both your patients and staff with respect, and you will help solidify the success of your practice.