5 Key Applications for the Future
In the first installation of the radiology group collaboration series, we discussed the various collaborative models available to providers in today’s era of brisk healthcare industry consolidation. Large group joint ventures, acquisition by management companies, and small, regional group collaboration—they all provide radiologists the opportunity to pool resources, attain economies of scale and prepare for future challenges in a rapidly evolving market.
As Deloitte’s “2016 Global Health Care Outlook” report noted, “The health care sector is moving from its traditional, fragmented approach to clinical and financial operations to one focused on consolidation, convergence, and connectivity … health plans are also ‘defragmenting’ via mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and collaborative relationships with providers to create powerful data-sharing networks that help drive integration across the continuum of care.”
In healthcare, “strength in numbers” remains the conventional wisdom. But bigger is not always better, and these arrangements may force physicians to sacrifice clinical and operational autonomy. They also are not always a prerequisite for creating an effective, value-based healthcare system—despite what national single- or multi-specialty management companies may say. While the large group collaboration model can provide the resources necessary to survive in the dynamic healthcare marketplace, it is a model often reserved for practices with 50 or more providers, essentially excluding smaller regional players.
This does not mean, however, that small radiology practices must fend for themselves. Emerging collaborative models can help small groups pool their resources, gain economies of scale and, most importantly, remain clinically independent. Below are five key benefits for radiology providers that adopt this innovative business model:
Increased Subspecialty Access
Access to a wide variety of radiology subspecialists has become critical to survive in today’s increasingly demanding industry. And yet, it remains largely elusive for smaller regional groups.
By forming a strategic, noncompetitive partnership with other local players, radiologists can broaden their reach and their ability to serve both hospital customers and patient consumers. Enhanced access to subspecialties differentiates health systems and increases their value. Through advanced technology and group collaboration, radiologists are now able to enhance both patient and physician satisfaction while improving the quality of their reads and the care they provide.
An Enterprise Imaging Solution
The practice of radiology is uniquely positioned to leverage an advanced distributing imaging technology to improve workflow efficiency and reduce costs—a critical focus of the specialty.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the annual spend on diagnostic imaging is $100 billion, making it the second-largest—and fastest growing—item for healthcare payors. AAOS also estimates that $30 billion of this spend is unnecessary, due to inappropriate utilization of imaging or duplication of studies.
Although legacy technologies still offer products that are often unable to successfully integrate with other workflow systems, small groups can now collaborate to adopt an enterprise imaging solution that improves efficiency and communication across the continuum of care. This allows groups to maintain high-quality care while increasing their bottom line and reducing overall costs.
An Advanced Analytics Platform
Analytics are an increasingly valuable tool across a variety of industries. A 2015 survey from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that health systems are recognizing the importance of advanced analytics capabilities. More than half of the participating health systems identified population health analytics as the top investment focus moving into 2016, and nearly four in five reported they will invest in advanced analytics capabilities for clinical and population health functions.
While health systems focus on generating data-driven strategies, it is equally important for radiology groups to focus on pooling data capabilities. This allows groups to improve the quality and efficiency of care and increase their value to the systems they serve. Combining analytics capabilities and research gives practices greater insight into both strengths and areas for improvement on an individual and group collaborative level.
Paired with a robust analytics platform, the small group collaborative model provides radiology providers with the opportunity to reduce costs in an increasingly demanding field.
While healthcare costs continue to rise at rapid rates, small groups can successfully partner to achieve cost-savings on necessary expenses. For example, medical malpractice insurance can be reduced by 20 percent as a practice increases its number of providers and tracks its risk profile through analytics. In addition, practices can adopt greater purchasing power and economies of scale through strategic partnerships with local players.
Whether developing annual reports for hospital clients, negotiating contracts with payors, or simply reaping the benefits of economies of scale, the collaborative model affords practices the chance to secure their future while reaffirming their clinical autonomy. This gives them a clear advantage in an increasingly competitive market, allowing them the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive in the rapidly changing healthcare industry.