Why radiology is the cornerstone of any hospital

Radiology is the cornerstone of any hospital. An efficient, high-quality, well-run radiology department increases patient satisfaction as a result of its ability to improve patient care. Over time, a well-run radiology department adds significant patient volumes to the hospital, which, of course, favorably enhances the hospital’s bottom line. Regardless of whether the hospital is not-for-profit or for-profit, a smooth-sailing radiology department vastly increases the profitability of the hospital. The better the hospital system does financially, the more patient care and comfort can be enhanced.

Sometimes, though, hospital administrations need a reminder of just how important is a superior on-site radiology team. As many hospitals who have endured such a setup can attest, it is not adequate to have a teleradiology service and a couple of interventional radiologists on-site. That is a stop-gap measure designed to “fill a hole” until a permanent solution can be put in place. The problem with such a setup, though, is that it becomes very difficult for a hospital to recruit an entire group without enticements and promises being made that, from experience, cannot last.

Through constant, daily interactions, the medical staff of a hospital become reliant upon their on-site radiology teammates. The daily communication with known radiology personnel cannot be underestimated. Relationships build over time and doctors, in particular, are not too terribly happy when they are forced to adapt to frequent changes. Patient care advances become second nature through the efforts of highly-trained interventional radiologists. Hospital administrations don’t always notice the well-run components of their system to the same degree as those that need improvements. As we know, the broken parts of a machine need attention while the well-oiled, smoothly operating components do not.

As an interventional radiologist who has worked in several different hospital systems throughout my career, I have lately been immensely gratified by the outpouring of support that I and my radiology partners have received from the medical community here in Naples, Florida. Without prompting, and without exception, all of the doctors with whom we radiologists associate daily have stated categorically that our group enhances their ability to better care for their patients. We have come to realize that radiology has not and will not be commoditized to the degree that many other industries have become. You cannot farm out radiology interpretations to the lowest bidder and expect to get the same high-quality, sub specialized interpretations that you get from, for example, my group.

A tightly-run, efficient, high-quality group of individuals, like the radiology group of which I am a partner, is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a sub-specialized juggernaut with the highest satisfaction ratings of any group or department in the entire hospital system. I am and will continue to be a proud partner of Naples Radiologists. As we grow and change with the times, I fervently hope that  our hospital administration, and hospital administrations across the country, appreciate and respect their high-quality radiology departments, if they are so blessed. In doing so, their patients will receive better care and will have better experiences.

If they do not,well, patient care will unfortunately suffer.

Paul Dorio is an interventional radiologist who blogs at his self-titled site, Paul J Dorio, MD.

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  • Anonymous

    As medical imaging dominates and gradually replaces the physical exam, you are absolutely correct that radiology will continue to be the cornerstone of a hospital. Nowadays, it seems that no diagnosis can be made without fear of litigation (myself included), and the result is an overutilization of expensive imagery. Outsourcing is a way for hospitals to contain the costs. We are all feeling the pinch.

  • Anonymous

    Where to start with Dorio’s absurd post?  Cornerstone.   Get real. The word cornerstone implies that it is the most important part of the hospital.  What rubbish.  Radiology is important, indeed critical, but so is the ED, general surgery, critical care docs, nursing, etc.  There is no cornerstone, bud.
    The profitability of the hospital?!  Your analysis is typical of a tunnel-visioned sub-specialist who can’t see further than his own nose–or income statement.  Your hospital’s profitability is contributing, in its own small way, to the crisis in medical care financing.  It is truly disgusting how the  business mentality has perverted medicine.

  • http://drpauldorio.com Paul Dorio

    Muddy: Thanks for the comment. I don’t think that learned behaviors might revert back to the days before imaging became so universally accessible, regardless of what happens to the legal situation. But radiologists could be placed back into a more active role as “gatekeepers, ” so to speak, with more input into whether a study is necessary or helpful, provided that legal protection exists.

    Buzz: Ignoring the puerile attempt at trying to put me on the defensive, I would never suggest that any other department is less important than Radiology. But, yes, indeed, Radiology is essential as a department if one is to form a successful entity and label it a “hospital.” As to the “business mentality,” I certainly was not intending to go into business when I began medical school. I would jump at the chance to go to work everyday and do nothing but that which I have spent thousands of hours training to do.

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