Collaboration 101: The changing competitive landscape

By Keith Chew, MHA, CMPE, FRBMA, Senior Vice President

Consolidation is finally coming to healthcare.

After decades of fragmentation, financial pressures, heightened competition and regulatory changes are contributing to an increase in mergers and acquisitions across the spectrum of healthcare stakeholders – payers, health systems, physicians groups and more. According to the 2014 Deloitte Center for Health Solutions study “The Great Consolidation,” the average deal size for hospital acquisitions increased from $42 million in 2007 to $224 million in 2013. Using three separate approaches, Deloitte’s research team found that, by all three estimates, only 50 percent of all current U.S. health systems will remain in 10 years.

While this may be an alarming statistic for radiology practices and imaging centers to digest, a solution has emerged in recent years to combat this trend and keep medicine local. Collaboration among likeminded, noncompetitive physician groups has provided an attractive alternative to the recent increase in M&A activity. The collaborative model provides radiology groups the opportunity to work together to achieve some of the benefits of larger industry players, while keeping medicine local and maintaining a strong connection with the community in which they serve.

The following are five key benefits of this emerging model:

Increased subspecialty access
Increased access to subspecialists has become a critical factor in the survival of radiology groups and the quality of care they provide. According to the American College of Radiology (ACR), radiologists have an average error rate of nearly 30 percent, with 70 percent of the errors due to an unperceived, or “missed,” abnormality in the reading.

By joining a collaborative, radiology groups can expand their capability to serve their patient population by becoming interconnected remotely with subspecialists throughout their community, state or even region. This can produce better clinical decisions, increased patient safety and improved patient care through improved contribution by radiology to patient care diagnostics.

Medical malpractice cost-savings
While an increased number of providers tends to lower medical malpractice costs, there is a ceiling associated with how large a practice can become, preventing future cost-savings. By combining a larger provider pool with a powerful analytics platform, collaboratives can build a customized medical malpractice program based on the group’s documented, detailed performance. By tracking key metrics like the number of incidents and the number of misdiagnoses, radiology groups can begin to better understand their risk profile and create a custom risk management program designed to lower costs and improve the quality of care they provide.

Advanced analytics capabilities
The healthcare industry is gradually understanding the potential power of analytics to improve results and enhance operational and clinical efficiencies. According to a 2015 survey from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, more than half of the health systems surveyed identified population health analytics as the top investment focus moving into 2016, and more than three in five reported they will invest in advanced analytics capabilities for clinical and population health functions.

By collaborating with likeminded groups, radiologists can adopt an advanced analytics platform that can leverage structured and unstructured data to track key metrics and improve practice performance. To learn more about the capabilities of analytics, please download our white paper here.

Enterprise imaging technology
For the past three decades, healthcare has been increasingly focused on interoperability and the pursuit of a comprehensive, unified patient view. Radiology has been at the forefront of this movement, beginning with the development of Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) in the early 1990s.

As patient coverage expands and the quality of care improves, the full transition toward interoperability in healthcare hinges in part on the success of enterprise-wide imaging, a movement to eliminate inefficient silos in radiology and, ultimately, develop a unified patient view that gives the clinician access to everything he/she needs to provide high quality care in a timely fashion. Through a collaborative model, groups can begin to adopt cloud-based technologies that bridge these silos of data, increase efficiency and improve patient care and regulatory compliance.

Economies of scale
As reimbursements continue to decline and the industry continues its shift from fee-for-service to payment-for-value models, it is increasingly important for radiology practices and imaging centers to reduce costs and improve productivity to create a leaner organization.

Membership in a group collaborative provides radiologists the opportunity to achieve economies of scale for their practice while maintaining clinical autonomy. By improving purchasing power and pooling resources, radiology groups can better prepare for the future of healthcare and secure their independence despite increased competition.

Collaboration among likeminded radiology groups has emerged as an attractive alternative for radiology groups seeking to remain independent in an increasingly consolidated market. To learn more about this business model and its varied benefits, please contact us at ContactIRP@IntegratedRP.com