Teaching Radiologists to Be Business Leaders

December 22, 2015

CHICAGO-Advice given at RSNA 2015 on preparing radiologists for the new field of radiology.

Today’s radiologists do more than examine images and diagnose problems. They’re expected to understand revenue streams, keep up with coding and billing updates, and participate in mergers and acquisitions decisions.

But, currently, Falgun Chokshi, MD, MS, assistant professor of radiology and imaging services in the neuroradiology division at Emory Healthcare said at RSNA 2015 said, too few radiologists are prepared for these types of activities.

“Providing business leadership skills is a way to empower our trainees so they can go into a complex and very rapidly changing world of radiology and health care delivery and become active players,” he said. “These teachings provide valuable and necessary nonclinical tools, knowledge, and insight that have historically never been afforded in our training environment.”

The most effective way to impart this knowledge, he said, is to create a targeted curriculum and identify residents and fellows who could benefit from it the most. At Emory, this effort is known as P3R2 – Practice, Policy, and Professionalism for the Radiology Resident. Chokshi shared some lessons learned.

Design Phase: Most importantly, when you’re creating a business leadership program, he said, you must get buy-in from your residents. Without their interest and participation, your efforts will be fruitless. Pinpoint the residents you think have the acumen to grasp and develop business skills. Groom them and cultivate their abilities to grow along a leadership track.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"44482","attributes":{"alt":"Falgun Chokshi, MD, MS","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_260901788690","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4977","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"float: right;","title":"Falgun Chokshi, MD, MS","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Engage residents and fellows by asking for their input on what topics should be covered in the curriculum. Billing and coding, compliance, health care reform, informatics, professional ethics, and conflicts of interest have been popular at Emory, Chokshi said.

Core Curriculum: Leadership training works best when it’s integrated into residency training overall, he said. Consider devoting one of your monthly resident lectures to a leadership topic, such as ICD-10, reimbursement, industry relationships, entrepreneurship, or breaking bad news to patients. Make them didactic or case-based. If possible, include your department chair and make the sessions interactive.

Incorporate leadership training into your grand rounds and invite faculty from your schools of business and public health – if your institution has them – to come and speak to your residents and fellows. Be sure to limit the amount of self-directed learning to expect, however, he said. Your residents are already heavily tasked, and you want the leadership curriculum to be as accessible to them as possible.

Assessment: It’s important to know whether your leadership program is on target and benefiting those involved, Chokshi said. Testing their knowledge before and after a lecture can give you an accurate measure of your success.

To gather both aggregate and resident-specific data, Emory uses Google Forms to assess how much knowledge residents and fellows retain, at least in the short term. So far, Chokshi said, program leaders have seen a 24% increase in the short-term retention of leadership knowledge based on post-lecture evaluations. Residents and fellows will be evaluated again in a month or more to gauge longer-term retention.

Feedback: Don’t be afraid to solicit feedback from everyone involved with your leadership program, he said. Get responses from your department chair and residency director, and keep students involved by routinely asking for their thoughts. Keeping them involved is paramount, he said, because they are the stakeholders who are supposed to benefit the most from the leadership programming.

“Our purpose is to improve our programming and adopt a philosophy of leadership and business experience among the residents and fellows who are going to be our future leaders,” Chokshi said. “There’s currently a significant business acumen in radiology as far back as anyone can tell. It’s time to change the paradigm.”