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10 Things to Consider When It’s Teleradiology Contract Renewal Time

Physician signing a teleradiology contract

Before you renew your teleradiology contract, consider these ten points to help evaluate quality, efficiency, accessibility and costs.

#1:  What is the financial health of your current teleradiology provider?

Financially stressed teleradiology providers are making news. Some companies have declared bankruptcy. Attempts to correct an unhealthy balance sheet might appear in your teleradiology contracts as management fees and dynamic pricing. Poor economic health of a company can impact delivery of service in many ways, and might adversely affect turn around times, physician availability, pricing, and care.

Related links:
Radiology provider Envision Healthcare officially files for bankruptcy, hoping to cancel $5.6B in debt (Radiology Business)
S&P downgrades Radiology Partners amid worries its capital structure could become unsustainable (Radiology Business)

Concerning headlines should not overshadow the existence of financially healthy teleradiology practices, like Excalibur. Our stability allows us to deliver consistent service.

#2:  Is your current teleradiology provider physician owned and operated?

Physician owners empathize with your clinical requirements and are more responsive to your needs as a practicing physician. Some of the largest teleradiology companies are publicly held corporations. They are pressured to answer to the demands of private equity investors and stockholders in the pursuit of profit. This influences pricing, staffing, and patient care.

When you have a clinical need, who is answering the phone? Is a physician responding directly to your request?  Are you getting a patient-centric response?

#3:  Is there a concern with credentialing new physicians?

Joint Commission accredited providers like Excalibur can utilize “Credentialing by Proxy”. CMS allows the governing body of a hospital or CAH (Critical Access Hospital) whose patients are receiving telemedicine services to grant privileges in reliance on the credentialing and privileging decisions made by the distant-site hospital. This also permits hospitals and CAHs to rely on credentialing and privileging decisions made by “distant-site telemedicine entities,” such as teleradiology groups and ambulatory surgery centers.

#4. Are you getting final interpretations with your current teleradiology contract?

Final interpretations provide the most cost-effective use of your teleradiology dollars and decrease the workload for your current radiology group by eliminating the need for re-reading the overnight exams.

Choosing Excalibur gives you final interpretations.

#5:  How responsive is the company to your questions and concerns?

Are your calls going into a call center, only to wind up on extended hold? Does correspondence seem too automated?

Having access to the owner of the teleradiology practice leads to a more personalized approach to addressing your needs. Reduce delays that may be experienced when dealing with a corporate entity that must answer to a board to affect change.

#6: What infrastructure does your teleradiology provider invest in?

Does your teleradiology company have a Joint-Commission-inspected headquarters, or is HQ a basement in their house? Where are their backup servers? How do they account for being consistent, secure, and compliant? Excalibur’s decades of experience with Healthcare IT can offer higher standards of service.

#7:  Does your remote radiology service provider give you the flexibility you need?

We know that there are situations when practices/facilities face unexpected staffing shortages. To stay prepared for those times, you need a partnership with a teleradiology provider that is able to scale up interpretation volume at a moment’s notice.

It’s important that you consider staff feedback at contract renewal time. In-house staff often provides the best insights on performance:

#8:  Ask your technologists: Are the radiologists accessible for questions or suggestions on scanning protocols?

Radiologist support is essential when there are patients awaiting scans.  Seek a dedicated group of radiologists assigned to your practice, who are a phone call away. Timely communications lead to improved patient outcomes and fewer repeat scans.

#9:  Ask your practice manager: Are the reports timely and is the quality of service consistent?

Often the Practice Manager is the one who must apologize to the referring physicians if there is a delay in report availability. Consistency is key to maintaining your referral base. There is nothing more important than receiving quality, timely reports from a partner you can trust.

#10:  Ask your physicians:  Are they satisfied with reports they receive, and are the radiologists readily available for consultations, should they have questions?

We provide a cadre of radiologists available to discuss patient history and symptoms with your clinicians and physicians. Familiarity with your team facilitates the highest quality reports and best possible patient outcomes. There is a closer working relationship with your staff. These physicians actually get to know your clinicians and technicians, and you get to know them. Your radiologists should be a phone call away and services should be the same as if they were just down the hall.

Evaluate service, efficiency, accessibility and costs.  If your current teleradiology contract raises question marks in any of these areas, consider discussing your needs with Excalibur.

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The Excalibur Teleradiology Blog is an information resource, with articles that are of interest to the radiology community. We invite contributions and share links with permission, please contact info@excaliburmed.com for more information.