“Economic Downturn is Opportunity for Imaging Centers to Become Remarkable” Medical Dealer Magazine April 2009
With daily headlines including words like recession and economic depression, imaging centers are tightening their belts now more than ever. This difficult economy can, however, be a unique opportunity for imaging center managers and radiology administrators to set their businesses apart from the competition. By choosing to approach the problem seeking solutions, opportunities present themselves for creating remarkable service, remarkable image quality, and remarkable relationships in this industry. Managers should welcome this opportunity to scrutinize every business process and procedure.
There are many ways to increase your facility’s remark-ability. The value of any imaging business is not necessarily in having the latest equipment but in the skills, knowledge and proficiency of the staff that operates that equipment.
A $2 million MRI scanner is just dead weight if you do not have the right people running it. Unfortunately, this is an important point that is often overlooked during the business decision process.
Now is the time to review your equipment and its capabilities as well as the skills and competencies of your technologist team. Many times the advanced imaging systems, such as CT and MR scanners, have been purchased with options that have been under-utilized or may not have been used at all.
For instance, reviewing the capabilities of the MRI scanner may allow you to introduce new procedures to your service offerings or even streamline your MRI protocols while improving image quality. Often times, the staff that was originally trained on the equipment is no longer there and that technical knowledge may not have been passed down to the current staff. Taking this opportunity to educate your staff, refresh their clinical skills and cross-train them to cover more than one modality in your center requires a relatively small investment in dollars and time. The return on this investment will allow you to re-introduce your center’s expertise to the community. Use this as an opportunity to increase your market share in the area by advertising the addition of a new procedure or spotlighting the expertise of your staff.
Possibly, the most important aspect of remark-ability is the entire patient experience at your facility. This should be reviewed from the initial scheduling of the appointment to the discharge after the procedure has been completed. The manager may already know what needs to be done to address issues, such as reducing wait times or how to do more with less staff, but if a scenario can be created to guide the right questioning process and create camaraderie, the solution will be easier to implement.
Your staff has day-to-day, face-to-face contact with your patients and will usually receive comments from those patients regarding their experience with your facility. This is an opportunity to find the areas that need to be fine-tuned or change an age-old process that is just not working any more. Promote a team environment by inviting your radiology team members to contribute their ideas on how to better serve your patients and your referring doctors. This will allow their voices to be heard prior to any changes that may be implemented. One of the most difficult tasks for many managers is getting the staff to follow through on the big picture goals. Often these changes can be presented as one of their own ideas and will result in less resistance when the changes are put into effect.
By increasing your imaging department remark-ability, your facility will become the center of choice in the community. Today’s patients are consumers and have a choice of where they will have imaging procedures performed. The knee-jerk reaction to tough economic times is the tendency to cut-back on staff and services.
Patients talk, and they will share with their doctor, their friends, and their hair stylist the special care they received at your facility, just as they would share a less than pleasant experience. It doesn’t cost any more money or take any more time to treat your patients as if they are welcome guests. A friendly voice on the phone when they schedule their appointment, a smiling face when they check in, a technologist who introduces herself before beginning the procedure – these are small but very important aspects in the patient experience. And the value of positive word of mouth is remarkably priceless.
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