There’s no shortage of commentary on what the consequences of changing from a fee-for-service model to value-based reimbursement might have on healthcare delivery and profits, but an article by two authors, cited by Health Imaging, caught our attention with a provocative premise: develop a reimbursement metric that focuses on physician time savings.
Christoph I. Lee, MD, of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Dieter R. Enzmann, MD, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, suggest that radiologists will benefit in this new era if they focus on the time value of money rather than radiology information systems imaging technology. You can read the abstract of their article here.
In other words, when they begin to think more like business people rather than researchers, they will be better prepared for changes ahead.
Focusing on Time Savings Rather Than Medical Imaging
Lee and Enzmann state that it’s important for radiologists to identify the associated costs of patient care in order to measure the true value of medical imaging. Up until now, measuring quality was process driven. Demonstrating value on patient outcomes is the new normal.
Here are four ways areas in which radiologists can focus to accommodate the new value-based reality:
1. Time saved. If your radiology department is measuring only fixed costs, like the actual cost of an image, then you’re missing an opportunity to demonstrate the time value of money, especially the “downstream” costs of physician time. While these “indirect” costs may not be as easy to quantify, you’ll recognize increased ROI through greater productivity.
2. Actionable information. Rather than act solely as a technician, the radiologist can provide diagnostic information to the clinician or doctor, which saves time over the long run. This is where value can be measured.
3. Efficiency. Using time and resources efficiently can decrease aggregate healthcare costs. “Value is measured in terms of patients outcomes achieved per dollar expended,” wrote the authors. The relevant cost is the total cost of all resources expended, including physician time.
4. Provide continuous persistent value. Because imaging files exist in a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) for a long time, there is tremendous value from this “mineable data.” Determining value based on the potential reuse after the initial single cost could provide a new model of service valuation.
While the idea of medical decision making may be new for many radiologists, providing an integrated solution rather than simply interpreting images will designate them as important allies across the healthcare ecosystem.
How are you adjusting to value-based reimbursement? I encourage you to share your feedback, via a comment below.