Six Traits Radiologists Should Look for in an Imaging Technology Vendor

2017-11-28
 

Responsiveness. Transparency. Trust.

Ask consumers what they value most in a retail brand, and they’ll likely cite those three traits as reasons why they’ve done business with the brand for years.

It’s no different for vendors that maintain and service imaging equipment: technologies for health care providers, in general, and for radiologists and radiology departments specifically.

Radiologists evaluating vendors at RSNA 2017 should keep these traits in mind, especially when choosing a vendor to maintain the imaging equipment and technologies used to make life-saving decisions for patients.

Six Traits Radiologists Should Look for in an Imaging Technology Maintenance Vendor

Radiologists should measure the relationship between themselves and their imaging equipment and technology maintenance vendors by what I call “customer intimacy.” In other words, how close is the connection between provider and vendor? I believe that connection should be intimate.

What does that mean? The best way to answer that question is to describe the attributes of an intimate relationship between a provider and a vendor. Those attributes should include (but not be limited to):

  • Deep knowledge of the provider’s business. That means the vendor knows as much if not more about the market or vertical in which the provider operates than the provider itself.
  • Deep knowledge of the provider. That means knowing the provider, the provider’s specific competitive market, its application ecosystem (what systems are connected and where), its idiosyncrasies, and its pain points.
  • Continuous availability. Being available to the provider 24/7, 365 days a year must be a given. Providers care for patients on a continuous basis. Providers should expect their vendors to do the same to support their patient care services.
  • Personal availability. When imaging equipment or technologies go down for whatever reason, it’s not just the equipment or technologies that are affected; it’s patients. A provider must speak with a vendor in person, rather than having to slog through an automated phone tree.
  • Empathy. It’s not a piece of equipment or software that needs to be fixed; it’s the patient on the other end of that equipment or software. A vendor must know what’s at stake when a problem occurs and be empathetic to the provider’s concerns.
  • Proactive. Just as in any close relationship, imaging equipment and technology maintenance vendors should anticipate providers’ needs. They shouldn’t wait for the provider to call for help.

Three Tactics that Foster Customer Intimacy

The attributes of customer intimacy I described above don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of careful and considerate preparation and execution by service vendors. Think of retailers known for their superior customer service. Now think of retailers known for low prices or poor customer service. There are reasons behind the differences in reputation.

There are three secrets to success for vendors that maintain imaging equipment and technologies for providers and radiologists:

  1. They’re patients, not products. Vendors that offer superior customer service and that embrace customer intimacy know that they’re not just servicing machines. They know that there’s a patient on the other side of that machine who desperately needs it to work properly. That recognition and appreciation of the patient should drive vendor behavior.
  2. Staff training and education. Practice makes perfect. It’s no different for vendors that service imaging equipment and technologies. Vendors that excel at customer intimacy continuously train and educate their staff. For radiology service vendors, it means teaching staff the technical aspects of the equipment so they can diagnose and solve problems. But it also means training and educating staff on how to “read” customers and how to be empathetic to their needs.
  3. Staff evaluation and feedback. Vendors that excel at customer intimacy regularly evaluate their staffs’ customer service performance. For radiology service vendors, that means grading staff on their technical expertise and their ability to resolve problems quickly. It also means grading staff on their ability to report problems and comply with any regulatory or manufacturer patient safety requirements. And it means grading staff on the quality of their customer interactions.

There are clinical and financial benefits for radiologists and radiology practices and departments that partner with an imaging service vendor skilled in customer intimacy.

The most obvious clinical benefit is minimizing downtime and reducing or eliminating delays in patient care. The financial benefit stems from expensive imaging equipment and technologies that are not idled because the server is down, the power is off, a password is forgotten or an imaging study is lost.

When meeting with imaging service vendors, radiologists should ask vendors how committed they are to customer intimacy. If you are attending RSNA this week, come find me in booth 7313 and we can talk more about the power of customer intimacy. If not, feel free to contact us for more information.


Rick Gary is vice president of global customer success at Change Healthcare.

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