Radiologists must demonstrate 'significance' in a changing healthcare environment

Radiologists must demonstrate their "significance" when it comes to providing services, or risk losing their "turf," according to Lawrence Muroff, M.D., CEO and president of Tampa, Florida-based Imaging Consultants Inc.

Muroff, in a recent interview with DOTmed News, was commenting on what radiologists need to do to survive and prosper in an era of reimbursement cuts and changing payment models. For example, he said, radiologists will have to make themselves available for more consultations and more contact with patients, and increasingly will have to involve themselves in the "medical, social and political fabrics of their hospitals and communities."

"We've got to be visible, we've got to provide a level of service that others can't emulate unless they have the same intensive training that we have," Muroff said.

Visibility has long been an issue for radiology, a problem demonstrated by a study presented at RSNA 2012 in Chicago by Peter Miller, M.D., of the University of Indiana School of Medicine, and Richard Gunderman, professor and vice chair of radiology at Indiana University, who found that almost two-thirds of patients surveyed had no idea what radiologists do.

Vijay M. Rao, M.D., David C. Levin, M.D., and Jonathan W. Berlin, M.D., made many of the same points as Muroff at a session on the "Future of Radiology" at RSNA 2013 last year in Chicago. At that session Rao urged her fellow radiologists to become more visible within the hospital environment.

"One thing that clearly needs to happen is that radiologists need to build bridges to hospital administrations," she said. "As we evolve into bundled payments or the formation of ACOs [accountable care organizations], we're no longer talking about fee-for-service, so radiologists may be in an unfavorable position unless the hospital recognizes their value."

Levin added that radiologists need to start acting more like consulting physicians by screening imaging exams for appropriateness and making themselves available to consult with referring physicians.

To learn more:
- see the article in DOTmed News
- read about the session on the "Future of Radiology" at RNSA 2013