Health Care Reform Prompts Colorado Radiology Group Changes

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Diversified Radiology’s Unique 24/7 Services Could Become Industry Standard

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A radiologist at Diversified Radiology studies images In Denver, Colorado.

"What the patients see during the day is what they're going to get a night. It's one standard of care 24/7"

A Colorado radiology group is responding to healthcare reform by offering enhanced-24-hour-radiology specialized overnight services that will eliminate extra tests, save hospitals money and deliver better patient care.

Diversified Radiology’s “24/7/365” enhanced after-hours service now includes dedicated subspecialized Pediatric, Neuroradiology and Body Imaging radiology services, making it the only radiology group in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region to offer this level of specialization in the overnight hours.

Diversified’s aggressive move to provide more value to hospitals and patients is an example of transformation happening all over the country, as healthcare providers roll out redesigned business practices in an effort to better compete in the market drastically changed by the Affordable Healthcare Act. These changes will only intensify when the state public health insurance exchanges open for enrollment Oct. 1.

“What they see during the day is what they’re going to get at night. It’s one standard of care 24/7,” said Dr. David Gilliland, one of Diversified’s radiologists and Chair of the Radiology Department at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital. Gilliland said most radiology groups either outsource their afterhours care or rely on on-call doctors who may or may not have subspecialized training. Diversified’s unique coverage model means the firm’s radiologists interpret 90 to 100 percent of their daily volume within their expertise compared to 20 to 30 percent in other groups.

“It takes more of an effort and is more expensive across the board,” explained Dr. Gilliland, “but the trade is that we’re offering more dependability. And that’s important for the hospitals and physicians we serve so they know the read (the interpretation) they get at one in the morning is the same as the one they get at one in the afternoon.”

The result is a consistent standard of care, less chance for errors and the ability to provide “final” reads instead of the preliminary reads provided by general diagnostic radiologists, which require another read in the morning, creating unnecessary redundancy and costs. The streamlined process appeals to hospital leaders who must seize every opportunity to cut costs, improve quality, and generate the best patient outcomes. In the end, it’s not just hospitals that benefit, but the patients.

Impact on Patients

“The after-hours environment is different than the day work,” shared Dr. Barry Schoelch, who manages Diversified’s Afterhours Core. “We’re reading mostly emergency room cases. It’s fast paced. Cases are coming in one after another. A subspecialist is going to give a more precise read. It leads to better patient care, and that’s extremely important.”

That’s especially true in pediatrics, according to Pediatric radiologist, Dr. Jonathan Brandon. “With children, getting it right the first time is paramount,” said Brandon, “and that’s why we have a specific Pediatric Radiologist there to answer questions from the ER doctor or the parents. When you’re dealing with a sick infant, you need to make decisions quickly.”

That urgent need prompted Diversified Radiology to recently add after-hours pediatric coverage, making the group the only private practice radiology group that exclusively interprets for a children’s hospital, once again increasing the group’s competitive position in the market.

Consumers can expect to see an increase in healthcare companies announcing changes in delivery methods and processes as the state public health insurance exchanges launch, further altering the business models for hospitals and reinforcing the need for healthcare organizations to find ways to differentiate and bolster value.

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Clint McClurg

Mary Nelson
since: 04/2009
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