December 11, 2013 | Practice Management

By Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Do you resolve to make your radiology practice more efficient in 2014? We talked to the experts to bring you eight ways to boost efficiency — without breaking the bank.

1. Only use final reads.
Radiology groups using nighttime coverage services or relying on the emergency physician to do preliminary reads may be causing themselves extra work. “Lots of radiology groups use nighthawk type services to maintain control of night-time reads, having them do prelims. And they come in and do final reads in morning. That’s not a very efficient workflow,” said Teri Yates, founder and principal consultant of Accountable Radiology Advisors in Ohio.

Radiology groups fear that allowing the nighttime service to do final reads weakens their position and puts contracts at risk, which is a legitimate concern, she said. But using preliminary reads from others increases communication problems if discrepancies are found by the radiologist providing the final read. In emergent cases, the patient may already have been treated and sent home. “Sometimes that discrepancy doesn’t get effectively communicated,” to the patient, Yates said.

2. Use voice recognition with self-editing.
Voice recognition software allows you to get your thoughts down quickly. But don’t wait for a third party to edit your work. “By self-editing it on the spot, you get the report out right away,” said Yates. “When a group converts to voice recognition and 100 percent self-editing, turnaround time becomes very fast.” With this method, radiologists can finish a read and report within 30 minutes, which means that the ordering physician, like an emergency physician, doesn’t feel the need to do a preliminary read.