in the market, an imaging service should
clearly document service expectations for
those physicians. Documenting will guide
you to ask the right questions and confirm
the service requirements for each office.
Without proper documentation, you are
managing operations based on “your”
understanding of the physician office
needs and could be missing an opportunity to create a loyal referral pattern.
While referring physicians are critical to the
success of an imaging service because they
dictate patient referrals, radiologists are
critical in the success or failure of an imag-
ing service as well. Radiologists can make
or break the services being provided to the
referring physicians because they are an
instrumental part of the service delivery
model. Identified below are four tactical
steps to improve radiologist collaboration:
1. Communicate. The liability of poor
communication in radiology has
increased. At first, many may think we
are discussing litigation issues based off
poor results communication. However,
the focus in this article is the liability
one places on the facility without communicating with the radiologist team.
Communication is vital to assure solid
operations and alignment. Taking time
to communicate to appropriate radiologists is beneficial to operations.
2. Involve them in decision making.
Involve radiologists rather than placing
demands on them. The administrator
needs to be clear in his/her own mind
what they need or want from the radiologist’s involvement. Do not assume
they can read minds. Instead, keep the
discussion short and simple. Additionally, allow room in the discussion for
the radiologist to negotiate with you. If
there is no room for negotiation, it is a
demand placed on the radiologist.
3. Co-define service delivery expectations. Radiology marketing and sales
do not focus on selling a CT scan. The
team focus is on selling the experience.
Understanding the customer expectation
is essential for success and helps define
the experience. Having the understanding of what the customer expects and
what factors influence those expectations on a dual level allows for the team
to meet the variable needs on a range of
levels for your customers.
4. Implement initiatives cooperatively.
The opportunity to collaborate with
radiologists is an opportunity that many
administrators miss. Involving your radi-
ologists to jointly define your marketing
plan and service delivery expectations
allows for initiatives to be implemented
together. This benefit will allow you to
over deliver service to your customers
and sell the radiology experience.
Examples in Co-Marketing
In the following examples, three facilities
work to varying degress with their radiologists. They are all located in a midwest city
where the unemployment rate is 10.5%.
The available radiology market continues to
decrease due to the high unemployment
rate and concern over radiation exposure.
Market intelligence suggests that 60% of
outpatient MRI and CT facilities have seen
a decrease in patient volume. In today’s tele-imaging environment, many radiologists
are spending less time in hospitals. And
many community physicians may not
know the radiologists in an unaffiliated
independent diagnostic testing facility.
The graph in Figure 1 shows the accelerated growth opportunity for a new facility when initiatives are cooperatively
implemented. The physician team and
administrative team worked together to
segment physician offices and customize
the unique preferences of each physician
office. Using the preference card model for
surgical suites, the team developed a preference list for referring physicians. The
new facility has seen appropriate growth
with referring physicians in all specialties.
This team also needed to focus on
existing facilities in the same competitive
market. In this specific market, radiology
has become a commodity. Quality and
technology are assumed. Marketing is
done by every organization. When working with existing facilities, they tended to
blend into the local commodity. This team
focused on redefining the service expectations for the existing facility. The team
included a radiologist in decision-making
and that allowed for a collaborative
approach and shared goals. The center
marketing team and radiology marketing
team shared a common message to referring physicians. Based on the needs of the
practice and referring physician, the contact person for the practice ranges from
the physician, the physician representative,