Like many of you trying to keep abreast in the radiology world, you will notice lots of articles by academic radiologists about the status and survival of private radiology practice. (JACR article, i.e., State of Private Practice) Answering these questions as an academic radiologist is like asking your average physician how to fly a plane. Most of them will not have a clue! Without having ever worked in the trenches of a private radiology practice, an academic radiologist will give a very partial response about what they think about the status of private radiology practices. So, let me give you some real insights about what private radiology practices need to survive! Here are five critical pillars to ensure that you will weather the most storms!
Readers That Can Plough Through Cases
First and foremost, a private practice needs work to get completed. (Academic radiologists tend not to consider this issue as much!) These include general and subspecialty work alike. (Not all cases need a sub-specialist!) Therefore, there needs to be a certain percentage of employees or partners that can manage high volume workloads to meet the demands. It does not have to be the entire practice. But, you do need a minimum base of these types of a radiologist to ensure that your patients, referrers, and administrators are satisfied with the numbers. Work grinders are still a necessity in today’s day age. We have still not arrived at Radiology 3.0 for most patients!
Physicians That Can Appease Administration
Next, you need a certain number of radiologists in any organization that can schmooze with the best of them. These sorts need to go to all the hospital events, parties, and golf outings. They need to be available to manage, negotiate, and make nice to the hospitals, imaging centers, and other referring physicians in high positions. These folks are vital to keeping friendly relations between the practice and the systems that ensure success. We need our administrators unless the group is independently wealthy and can afford to donate the next latest and most fantastic gazillion detector CT scanner!
Good Systemic Organization To Maintain The Peace
It’s not just about appeasing the administrators, but you need to take care of your own. Scheduling and a chairman or president who cares about practice stewardship are some of the critical roles that your group will need to fill. You need to schedule your workers fairly such that there is an “even” distribution of work. It would also help if you had folks that care for the workers to make it to family functions, graduations, funerals, etc.
Also, you need leaders that are willing to help out the group in times of need and crisis. Whether you have angry clinicians from a recent miss or other systemic issues, leadership must step up to the plate and protect the worker bees. It goes a long way toward maintaining peace.
An Excellent Management Team To Ensure The Bills Roll In
Management can be external or internal. Either way, you need a quality organization that can negotiate contracts, send out the bills, take care of benefits, and all the other fun stuff that goes into keeping a practice alive. A practice with thieves at the top won’t last too long. And, a disorganized management team will not allow for capturing all the income that you should. In either case, your practice will lose out on maintaining the income that private practice radiologists should make.
Appropriate Technology To Meet The Demands
For some groups that own their equipment, this involves the hardware itself or a PACs system. And, for others that rely on professional fees alone, this may be home workstations or scheduling software. In any case, you need to have the appropriate technology to tackle all the problems. If not, other practices will rapidly leave you behind!
Meeting Private Radiology Practices Need To Survive
So, now you know some of the basics that most private practices need to continue with operations. It is not calling every patient with their result. And, it is not kowtowing to every referrer. But, it is the actual day by day plowing through work, maintaining relations with administration and staff, keeping the bills flowing, and having the appropriate technologies to do so. These are the roles and skills that will ensure your practice will be around for many more years to come!