Demonstrating value in medical imaging was the topic of a recent Master’s of Radiology panel discussion as reported in FierceMedicalImaging. One radiologist argued that if radiologists just focused on providing clinical excellence and service to patients and referring clinicians, then the value proposition would become obvious.
David Larson, Department of Radiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, believes that understanding and improving the value provided to both patients and referring physicians is paramount, whether or not the “value” matches reimbursement levels.
“In short, I believe that the best way to maintain control of [medical] imaging is to consistently do it very well,” Larson said. Up until now, it seems radiologists are more intent on retaining control over medical imaging rather than providing patient-centered service, he added.
Defining Radiology’s Value Proposition
There are clear value propositions within medical imaging, but each requires specific capabilities and trade-offs, according to Dieter Enzmann, MD, UCLA and Donald Schorner, MD, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center who analyzed radiology business models in a published paper appearing in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).
The authors argue that, in order to position medical imaging competitively, radiologists need to define the primary value propositions that support their business model, such as:
Low-cost provider – This translates into low costs for acceptable quality and requires investing more in technology than high-paid staff radiologists. The use of teleradiology would be common and there would be an increase in computer-aided diagnoses.
The trade-off is that this type of mobile and communication infrastructure reduces the interaction with referring physicians and patients, “increasing the risk of commoditization,” write Enxmann and Schorner.
Product leader – Advanced medical imaging technology breakthroughs, such as CT, MRI, PET and ultrasound, once positioned diagnostic radiology as a service leader. But these medical imaging techniques have lost luster in the 21st century because they’ve become standard. In order to maintain their position as service leaders, radiologists will need to help referring physicians and patients become better medical decision makers.
In other words, medical imaging professionals will have to expand their scope to include business knowledge and intelligence.
Customer intimacy model – This represents a highly selective paradigm aimed at specific customers or patients. “This model seems suited for large multispecialty radiology groups, academic or private,” write Enzmann and Schorner. “It asks radiology to gain a detailed understanding of referring physicians’ or patients’ medical and economic needs, and to provide solutions that yield value beyond individual reports or procedures.”
It’s clear that the future of medical imaging is one where value is rewarded. What are your thoughts on medical imaging’s value proposition?