Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Teaching the Business Side of Radiology Could Have Long-Term Benefits

Published on the March 9, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

It’s no longer enough for radiology residents to master reading head CT scans or learn all the specifics of MRI imaging. Changing reimbursement structures and different healthcare setting models have made understanding practice management and healthcare policy a must.

In a recent study published in the March Journal of the American College of Radiology, researchers determined both residents and residency directors felt including these instructional topics would greatly benefit residents on the cusp of practice.

“It’s becoming more and more important to stay current on the business and policies of practice. If you’re not aware of what’s going on, then you can’t anticipate or make plans to navigate any changes,” said Jonathan Medverd, MD, lead study author and University of Washington radiologist. “If you don’t understand your place in the system and you don’t know who’s paying you, then you’re at a disadvantage.”

Medverd and colleagues surveyed members of the Association of Program Directors in Radiology and the American College of Radiology (ACR) Resident and Fellow Section (RFS) via email, and members of ACR RFS who attended the 2010 ACR annual meeting and leadership conference. Response rates were 21 percent, 12 percent, and 25 percent, respectively, and 560 individuals participated.

While residency programs do a good job at teaching residents about ethics, quality, and informatics, the curricula focus less on financial literacy, the basic understanding of practice governance, and performance metrics. It’s these areas, as well as strategic planning and accounting principles, where residents could gain from additional education, Medverd said.

In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2011 Graduate Questionnaire revealed medical students were also interested in learning more about practice management. Less than 50 percent said they felt their knowledge in this area was adequate.

“Pushing general things, such as basic financial literacy or how Medicare billing works, into medical school could increase confidence among doctors in training,” Medverd said. “Then residency programs can pick up and focus more specifically on how these issues affect their particular fields.”

However, knowing residents should have more instruction in these areas doesn’t mean including it in the curriculum will be easy. According to Jennifer Kohr, MD, a diagnostic radiologist with New York Presbyterian Hospital who helped design and implement a radiology business course as a chief resident, two main challenges exist to beefing up this part of residency education: time and resident motivation.

The number of skills and modalities resident must master has increased in number and complexity, she said, making it harder to squeeze additional, non-clinical topics into the curricula. And even if a program does manage to fit them in, residents are often overwhelmed and lack the motivation to learn something that won’t help them with direct patient care. The benefits, however, are there.

To read the remainder of the article: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/content/article/113619/2044713

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March 13, 2012 - Posted by | Education, Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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