Thanks to benchmark data across all the practice’s partners, radiologists can compare how the local practice is doing against others. This is especially valuable in ensuring proper patient follow-up after discharge. For example, by reviewing data on abdominal aneurysms, the practice found that 36 patients did not have proper follow-up care, which could lead to much higher care costs, suffering, or death.
“So, they’ve standardized that to contact referring physicians to ensure follow up exams,” says Tseng.
“That alone has saved lives and avoided huge costs down the road.”
Invest in Radiology Focus and Leadership
Leading operations at a high-volume surgical hospital, Tseng counts on this type of partnership behavior, rather than just hiring a group of physicians to perform specific tasks.
Memorial City does about 5,000 orthopedic surgeries a year, and that level of volume had started to crowd out the ORs. In part by analyzing data over two years, leaders were able to successfully lobby the health system to build a $30 million standalone orthopedic hospital.
Without prompting from Memorial City’s leadership, the practice recruited a radiologist who specialized in orthopedics from a major teaching hospital and had that person hired and trained in time for the new facility’s opening.
“This is what I mean when I talk about a valued partner,” says Tseng. “What was amazing about that was they knew we had invested quite a bit to build a nationally-recognized ortho facility in Houston and wanted their radiology capability to be as recognizable—someone fellowship-trained on ortho.”
In terms of advice for other hospitals, Tseng says now that he’s seen this type of behavior in action, “these relationships can be so much more than just transactional. They get paid to do to be true partners, so there should be an expectation that they are engaged in medical leadership, and contribute in areas where they can impact operations.”
Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.