Radiology represents nearly 10 percent of annual commercial healthcare spending in the United States, and that percentage is increasing rapidly. The Advisory Board Company expects that total radiology spend will increase by nine percent year-over-year through 2018. This matters because imaging is the largest source of outpatient profit for many hospitals, contributing as much as 35 percent to the bottom line – nearly three times the next most profitable service line for hospitals. Any growth in radiology is therefore a significant potential growth in profit.
In addition to potential for profit, radiology is also especially important because it affects patient satisfaction in nearly all fields of medicine. Because radiology is used in most patient and disease categories hospitals manage, its accuracy and efficiency have a direct effect on patient safety, referral patterns, emergency department throughput, length of stay and the overall patient experience. When considered in this broad scope, it’s clear that the influence of radiology on the cost and quality of care across the entire health system is greater than even profit margins suggest.
Radiology is an important step in a patient’s diagnosis and, as such, plays a key role in a patient’s care plan and potential admittance to an inpatient department. Getting accurate imaging results in a timely manner is critical for both patient outcomes and the hospital’s profitability. According to the Institute for Health Care Improvement, “overutilization of imaging and downstream impact of misdiagnoses contributes to more than $50 billion in excess health care costs each year.” This demonstrates the need for specialized radiologists who can provide accurate reads the first time around.
By performing appropriate studies at the beginning of a patient’s stay - and having them read by radiologists specialized in that field of imaging - health systems can reduce cost, increase patient satisfaction and reduce overall length of stay. In turn, this allows them to increase intake of new patients, which is critical as the population of the United States continues to age and demand for healthcare rises.
In order for hospitals to improve across a variety of quality metrics and increase profitability, radiology cannot be ignored. To learn more about improving your radiology department, follow our series of radiology-focused blog posts rolling out over the next few weeks, or click the link below to read our white paper: