Patient Empowerment Part III: Responding to Patient Choice

July 7, 2015

 

In last month’s installment of the Patient Empowerment series, we discussed how the rise of the new patient-consumer directly affects radiologists. Part III of this series will provide insight into what radiology practice leaders can do to not only adapt to this trend, but capitalize upon it to better serve their health systems and patients.

The healthcare industry’s transition from a wholesale to retail business model has inevitably altered health systems’ priorities, which now include patient acquisition via patient experience improvements. These industry-wide changes have directly impacted the radiology department; according to an article from RSNA, “…various market forces—from the growth of teleradiology and non-radiologists performing imaging exams to changing reimbursement models and healthcare reform—present both a threat and an opportunity within the specialty. As a result, experts say it is more critical than ever for radiologists to prioritize patient satisfaction and strengthen relationships with referring physicians, hospital administrators and insurers.”

The following are three ways radiologists can respond to the rise of patient choice and assist their hospital in attracting patients and gaining valuable market share:

 

Self-Assessments and Satisfaction Surveys

Conducting regular assessments to test the efficiency and quality of the practice’s care as well as patient and staff satisfaction levels is a key step in increasing a radiologist’s visibility and contribution to the overall patient experience. Dr. William Thorwath Jr. of Catawba Radiological Associates and RSNA Board Liaison for Publications and Communications states: “We need to be seen as we actually are: active participants in patient care.”

Dr. Thorwath continues: “We need to be continually asking, ‘What are we doing well? Where do we need to improve?’…Every radiologist knows the value of making the patient experience more positive, from convenient parking to a comfortable waiting area to easy and timely access to results.” With consistent surveying of both staff and patients to better improve practice efficiencies and operations, radiology leaders are continually increasing the value they add to their community and the health systems they serve.

 

Face-to-Face Interaction

Though not a traditional element in radiologic care, both RSNA and the American College of Radiology (ACR) suggest incorporating and increasing face-to-face time with patients. The ACR conducted a study to examine radiology’s role in patients’ overall health and the value a radiologist can bring to the continuum of care. The results were astounding; 93% of patients were more motivated to improve their health and diet after reviewing their images in a consultation with the radiologist. 86% were more motivated to exercise, while 100% were more motivated to quit smoking after the consultation. Moreover, 100% of patients preferred to repeat the experience and meet with a radiologist again in the future. This ultimately proves the significant and lasting impact radiologists can have on their patients’ health and the value they bring to the health systems they serve.

 

Patient (and Practice) Education

After Dr. Jennifer Kemp received a patient’s-eye view of her profession, she became the head of RSNA’s Radiology Cares committee to “optimize the patient experience in radiology.” Dr. Kemp espouses the importance the providing educational materials to patients to aid them in a better understanding of their results and/or condition. Radiology Cares offers a suite of downloadable patient-centered communication materials for radiologists to share and review with their patients. But the focus extends beyond the patient; Radiology Cares recognizes that this first must start with the practice leaders themselves. Therefore, the committee also offers a downloadable “Educational Toolkit” as well as a “Presentation Toolkit” to educate physicians on the importance of patient-centered care and how their practice can adapt to these industry changes.

 

To learn more about the rise of the patient-consumer and what radiology groups can do to respond to this industry-wide trend, please email us at ContactIRP@integratedRP.com.