E-News Exclusive

Small Observations From RBMA

By Jim Knaub

Conference speakers often share observations and ideas that are worth repeating but don’t quite fit into an article about their presentations. Here are five from the Radiology Business Management Association’s (RBMA) recent meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

1. A thought on developing leadership from Charlotte Radiology. The group will pay a member’s ACR dues as a practice business expense. The radiologist can opt out of ACR membership but can’t keep the money if he or she does.

2. Helping referrers order the right exam. Charles McRae, CEO of Columbus (Ohio) Radiology, believes radiology “must own the ordering process.” To help their referrers more easily order the right exam, the group created an ordering app. McRae said the app use was part of a 3% to 4% decline in fee-for-service exams, but the denial rate also dropped and the collection rate increased, resulting in little real loss. “If you do right by the patient, it usually works out,” McRae said.

3. Possible future health care reform trend? It’s too early to call it a trend, but Mark Jensen, CEO of Charlotte Radiology, mentioned that he suspects the growing percentage of patients with high-deductible insurance combined with the higher price point of hospital-based imaging may be driving some patients back to freestanding imaging centers.

4. Not just return on investment (ROI). Stephen Willis, CIO of Greensboro Radiology, offered this comment about IT investment: “Sometimes you have to make an investment for your sustainability, not just ROI.”

5. It’s the hospital. Remember the old debate about whether the hospital or the referrer is the radiologist’s main customer? Robert Barr, MD, of Mecklenburg Radiology Associates in Charlotte, said that as health care integration happens, more patients become locked into narrower provider networks and hospitals are even more of the primary customer than the referring doctor.

— Jim Knaub is editor of Radiology Today.