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Hospital leaders: Are the right radiologists reviewing your imaging studies?

Healthcare spending in the United States totaled $74.6 billion in 1970. By 2000, expenditures reached nearly $1.4 trillion. And by 2017, health spending swelled to $3.5 trillion. 

One root cause of these ballooning costs? A recent Journal of the American Medical Association study points the finger at imaging. In fact, according to the study, the United States performed the second highest number of imaging exams and had the second highest MRI and CT technology utilization rate among all the countries surveyed. 

So what does this mean for hospitals and health systems? For one, they must offer imaging services more efficiently and cost-effectively. This starts with ensuring that patient exams are interpreted by the right radiologist at the right time.

Subspecialized expertise

In an effort to more efficiently manage imaging costs, Riverside Radiology and Interventional Associates collaborates with its hospital partners to supply the driving demand for radiologists with subspecialized experience.

In order to provide the most accurate read, patient studies should be interpreted by a radiologist uniquely trained to generate a diagnosis specific to the type of modality that was requested. When an orthopedic surgeon requests an MRI of a patient’s knee, the image should be interpreted by a musculoskeletal (MSK) radiologist. The significant depth of expertise — to the treatment of diseases or injuries of the joints, bones muscles and spine — of an MSK radiologist will result in a report generated in a style that is most meaningful to the referring physician.

Utilizing subspecialized radiologists can enhance quality by reducing false positives and thus, lowering cost. As patients shoulder higher out-of-pocket expenses for imaging care, they are becoming more educated about their healthcare and elevating their expectations with the ability to choose where and from whom they receive treatment. 

While a certain percentage of radiology studies are falsely interpreted as positive for pathology, subspecialized radiology can reduce the need for repeat exams, keeping costs in check and cutting wait times for ordering providers and patients.

What’s more, according to a recent study in Clinical Radiology, referring physicians are more likely to value an interpretation by a subspecialized radiologist versus a general diagnostic radiologist. This collaborative patient care approach between physician colleague specialists is becoming more of today’s norm.

At Riverside Radiology and Interventional Associates, our subspecialized radiologists utilize proprietary software to access previous patient exams when interpreting studies, as well as determine if additional imaging studies are necessary. Not only does this enable a more definitive diagnosis, but it also protects patients from exposure to additional radiation and reduces unnecessary healthcare costs.

As a practice standard, Riverside Radiology and Interventional Associates provides extensive education and training opportunities to keep radiologists current on best practices, continuing education and research. 

Interested in learning more? Let’s talk.

As one of the largest providers of radiology services in the Midwest, we deliver a fully integrated and unified solution that includes workflow, clinical processes and a broad spectrum of physician support services with industry-leading operational performance:

ED turnaround: 15.6 minutes
Benchmark: 30 minutes to 2 hours

CT turnaround 3 hours or less
Benchmark: 4-8 hours

Stroke turnaround: 5 minutes
Benchmark: 45 minutes or less

Image peer review: 2-3%
Benchmark: 1-2%

We have earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, as well as compliance with its national standards for healthcare quality and safety in ambulatory care organizations.

For more information, contact Tim Borcherding at tborcherding@riversiderad.com or call (614) 361-3900.