The recession has magnified the business characteristics of physician groups: The great majority of groups are in a state of shock and have retrenched their business activities. The successful minority understand that this is the perfect time to chop deadweight and then to devote significant resources to grabbing market share from their competitors.
I am currently seeing this dynamic play out against radiologists on two distinct tracks.
The first is an intensified push by aggressive cardiologists. This includes both the attempt to muscle radiologists out of CT angiography and the broader push in respect of interpretation of all radiological imaging for cardiology patients.
The second track is a push by emergency department physicians to bill for the interpretation, not simply the review, of x-rays and other traditionally radiological modalities in respect of emergency department patients.
These challenges raise concerns on two levels.
On a systemic level, unless radiologists act to stem the tide, these attacks will weaken the accepted scope of radiology practice and therefore, of the scope of clinical privileges that should be afforded to radiologists only.
Secondly, no matter what the trend regionally or nationally, these challenges impact upon individual radiology groups in respect of the scope of their exclusive contracts.
Importantly, especially in times of decreasing collections, broadening the scope of who may hold clinical privileges in connection with what have traditionally been radiological procedures results in lower fair market valuations issued in support of exclusive radiology contract coverage. Lower fair market valuation means lower hospital financial support for your group.
The process of protecting the scope of radiology practice begins locally and directly impacts every radiology group's financial viability.
Nowhere is the need to position your group more vital than in respect of preserving the scope of radiology practice.
There are many steps that your group can take over the term of your current exclusive contract to set the stage to both preserve and regain scope of privilege protection. These efforts include tactics aimed at the medical staff, hospital administration and the community at large.
Diagnosis and treatment must begin immediately - the problem is cancerous and it is metastasizing.