The field of radiology is undergoing profound change as it deals with evolving payment models, falling reimbursement, regulatory changes and calls for transparency on issues of quality and costs. To that end, Radiology Business Journal recently interviewed leaders from different practice models to see how they are planning for the future.
In Maine, multispecialty practice Spectrum Medical Group has decided to prepare for the future through growth. When launched in the mid 1990s, Spectrum merged two radiology groups, two anesthesiology groups and a pathology practice. Today it accounts for more than 50 percent of all radiology services in Vermont.
According to Spectrum CEO David Landry, the steady growth and diversity of services offered "creates market leverage with hospitals, insurance companies, and others," increased its bargaining power with payers, and makes it less vulnerable to unwelcome business outcomes or consolidation.
Landry also told Radiology Business Journal that his organization has embraced the concept of "change hardiness" in the sense that it is thinking how it can create a culture in which it can handle those transformative changes that will inevitably occur in the future.
Consolidation is, of course, one of the trends that has impacted private practices. The freestanding outpatient imaging market remains a market susceptible to consolidation, according to Radiology Business Journal's annual report on the "20 Largest Freestanding Outpatient Imaging-center Chains," published in September.
James Rawson, chairman of radiology at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, told RSNA News a month earlier that he expects the trend to continue.
However, while Spectrum dominates the market in Vermont (and also has a presence in New Hampshire and Massachusetts), a smaller practice such as Advanced Radiology Consultants in Shelton, Connecticut--which has 31 radiologists--is proving that it can still dominate a geographic market.
Alan Kaye, M.D., the practice's president, told Radiology Business Journal that by remaining modest in size, the practice maintains its "flexibility," which he believes is increasingly important in an environment where it's uncertain what payment models will dominate, or to what extent the fee-for-service model will continue or disappear.
Meanwhile, at the University of California San Diego, the radiology department sees the future of academic radiology as being geared more and more towards patient care. That shift, according to William Bradley, M.D, Ph.D., chief of radiology at UCSD, has developed because of its ongoing focus on research and teaching and the impact it has had on improving and advancing patient care.