You know that nagging feeling you get when you’ve forgotten something? Well, many medical imaging executives should be feeling that way. What have they forgotten? Important metrics.
Yes, they’re measuring quality metrics like patient satisfaction, referring-physician satisfaction, and length of stay. They’ve carefully reviewed the recommendations from the Advisory Board and CMS’s PQRS program, and they’re religiously tracking their relative value units (RVUs).
Nevertheless, they’re not measuring things that are vital to the success of their radiology imaging department. Why? Because healthcare has changed, and the shift from volume to value has begun in earnest. To keep up, we have to measure items that matter in today’s world. Here are four things radiology departments probably aren’t measuring—but should be.
- Exam repeat rates. Often, we see radiology departments carefully measuring turnaround times but forgetting to measure exam repeat rates. This measurement may not have been critical in the past, but it is now, and it’s likely to be more important in the future. If you’ve got a problem with the quality of certain types of exams or a high rate of repeats from one or more technologists, you need to know it so you can address the problem.
- Best referral sources. Departments track their referrals, but they’re not doing everything they could with the data. Every department should know where referrals are coming from and which types of referrals (CT? Mammography?) are increasing and which are decreasing. The first step to successfully competing with other hospital radiology departments and standalone imaging centers is understanding current patient mix and being able to target market to the types of physicians providing your most advantageous referrals. You should also evaluate why referrals have dropped and identify the source of referrals with whom you should not be doing business.
- Call coverage rates. We’re likely to see an upsurge in radiology outsourcing going forward. Department heads will spend a lot more time managing business agreements with tele-radiology groups, so now is the time to get them right. How many hours of coverage is each group contracted for? How do you ensure the right study is being read at the right time by the most qualified radiologist?
- Non-value add work. How much time do your radiologists spend on tasks that should be done by someone else or not done at all? For example, reworking reports because of a conflict between the diagnosis and the billing code is a complete waste of time — and there are probably several similar activities occurring daily. Take the time to root out unnecessary activities and find ways to eliminate them, making your radiologists happier and more productive.
As radiology imaging becomes commoditized, we must all work harder to quantify its value. It’s time to update your key performance indicators (KPIs) to reflect where the industry is going because departments that aren’t measuring the things that matter may not survive. If you need help in these areas, contact our radiology imaging consultants at McKesson Medical Imaging Professional Services.