The radiology industry is met with many market challenges and policy changes year over year but coming off a pandemic in 2022 presents an even more interesting set of trends. These ten trends in diagnostic imaging highlight financial and technology dynamics that imaging leaders must take note of in 2022.
More Costs Equate to Lower Margins
Costs are rising on everything from staffing to supplies, and the rise is felt by diagnostic radiologists who are already taking a hit on earnings. One recent analysis in Doximity’s Annual Compensation Report cited radiology as one of the most in-demand specialties however, with docs still scoring hefty bonuses for their work amid fierce competition for talent.
Radiologists are Still “Greatly Resigned”
The Great Resignation has made an impact on radiology and other industries nationwide. It has created shortages for radiologists, rad techs, and nurses, even though the demand for these professionals is expected to remain strong in 2022. Radiology executives believe sourcing sufficient staffing is “more important than ever” in the coming months. While the estimated physician shortage in radiology and other specialties could surpass an estimated 35,000 in the next decade, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, artificial intelligence could prove to be a solution to the shortage.
AI and Machine Learning Rule the Revenue Cycle
Automated approaches aren’t new to RCM, but it is still a perception that healthcare organizations are behind other industries in the application of AI-based financial solutions. The pandemic has challenged radiologists to rethink their approach to automating financial processes such as coding, prior authorization, eligibility, benefits verification, patient payment estimation, and claims submission. Because A/R and denial management processes are becoming increasingly difficult for revenue cycle leaders to staff with the current nationwide labor shortage, these processes are becoming more automated, and AI can drive improvements across all of them.
Patients Want to Pay Anytime, Anyhow, and Any Way
High-deductible health plans and price transparency continue to be front and center for patient consumers. Today’s radiology patients are now more selective about where they receive imaging and other services, as well as more accountable to how they’re paying for those services. As imaging services become more shoppable, the need for price transparency tools and omni-channel patient payment engagement options also becomes more necessary, especially to consumers who are willing to pay more for higher quality radiology care with a better financial experience.
Price Transparency Continues to be Cloudy
The federal government continues to seek lower healthcare costs, which means initiatives around price transparency are gaining speed. Although these initiatives aim to inform patients about out-of-pocket costs, challenges remain in price transparency tools, with limited accuracy of estimates that account for multiple payers for the same service and the need for quality measures. Radiologists can expect further initiatives to be rolled out in the coming years, including more movement on the 2022 ban on surprise medical bills. For practices seeking to implement price transparency initiatives can work with companies like Zotec Partners to enhance patients’ experience with better communication around their out-of-pocket costs.
Radiology is on the Road Again
COVID-19 created a greater demand for virtual and home-based care. Because home-based care isn’t yet equipped to bring hospital-like settings or equipment into the home, it has burgeoned more mobile imaging offers for patients, such as the nation’s first mobile lung cancer screening program. More radiologists are expanding their operations on the road as they seek to deliver radiology care in the home.
Cybersecurity Remains a Real Threat
Cybersecurity attacks continue to plague healthcare entities. Due to the expansion of medical imaging being done outside the hospital and with the use of ambulatory imaging centers, the footprint of potential targets does include radiology practices. RSNA cited a study that stated hackers could intercept medical imaging from CT scanners and ‘add’ or ‘remove’ cancer from the studies, as one example. Radiologists no longer face these threats alone with the 405(d) program, which gives them access to useful and impactful resources, products and tools that help raise awareness and provide vetted cybersecurity practices.
Still Stuck in a Supply Chain Dilemma
One big concern among radiologists nationwide is how they will manage the distribution of goods and services from within the hospital and practice. For now, radiologists should likely prepare for supply disruptions and delays through the coming years. One recent analysis from HealthExec warned there is rising risk for supply chain challenges to create a decline in revenue, but many expect these issues to begin to subside in mid-2022.
Good news for PET Services
There are promising opportunities for radiologists who practice PET and CT as they to identify early on patients who could benefit from treatments like chemotherapy. With an extra emphasis on research in the modality, paired with new radiopharmaceuticals, radiologists who specialize in PET can expect to see more growth as patient volumes bounce back to pre-COVID levels. Need further proof? The PSMA PET was also named one of Cleveland Clinic’s top 10 innovations to watch in 2022.
Competitive Portfolios Can Keep Consolidation at Bay
The radiologist workforce continues to consolidate, leading to increased practice sizes and a substantial decline in the number of distinct practices, disproportionately affecting single-specialty radiology practices. The impact of this consolidation on cost, quality, and patient access merits further attention, especially as new organizations from outside of healthcare are taking part. To stay competitive, radiology practices can better manage the risk by seeking more opportunities to diversify.
As the largest privately held provider of radiology revenue cycle management, patient experience and practice management in the nation, Zotec constantly seeks to stay ahead of these trends to help our radiology clients succeed financially. To see how you can stay on top of these trends in 2022 and beyond, contact Brody Hendrix at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.zotecpartners.com to explore more.