Patient-centered care in radiology is good business

Over the past several years, radiologists have found themselves in an increasingly competitive environment in which patients are hard-pressed to discern the value that one practice provides compared to another. The profession, many radiologists have warned, is in danger of being commoditized.

Steps are being taken to combat this trend. For example, the Radiological Society of North America has launched "Radiology Cares," a program designed to facilitate direct relationships between radiologists and their patients, and to create an emerging practice model called "patient-centered" care. It's a way of helping patients make more informed decisions about their own healthcare.

It seems it also makes for good business.

One example can be found in an article in this week's issue of FierceMedicalImaging that looks at a recent survey examining patient attitudes towards patient portal technologies.

The use of health information technology--and patient web portals, in particular--can greatly enhance patient-centered care by enabling patients to update health and demographic information, request appointments and prescriptions, receive test results and access their medical imaging scans and associated reports.

Providing patients with this kind of patient-centered care can be financially rewarding, as well. According to the survey, 83 percent of the respondents, if given the opportunity, would like to have access to a medical imaging patient portal. More importantly from a business perspective, the vast majority said they would be repeat customers at a facility that provides this service, adding that they would refer that facility to friends and colleagues.

In this case, patient-centered care serves as a method for developing a brand and building customer loyalty; it makes business sense. But there are a number of other ways that patient-centered care makes for good business, as well.

For example, under the recently implemented Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will make value-based incentive payments to hospitals based on how well they perform on certain quality measures, such as those related to patient satisfaction. This gives radiologists an opportunity in a hospital setting to help their hospitals claim these incentive rewards by practicing patient-centered care.

When radiologists provide their customers (patients) with high-quality care, and combine that with service excellence, it is bound to help them thrive in these challenging times. They will be able to differentiate themselves by building brand identity--and customer loyalty--around a patient-centered approach to care that helps them meet the increasingly high expectations of healthcare consumers. - Mike  @FierceHealthIT

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