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More effective data mining is best marketing for radiology departments

Radiology departments trying to separate themselves from competitors should start by making better use of their data.

Radiology departments must adopt a strategy that provides their target audience with information on their product, including pricing and how their service differs from that of competitors. It's the only way they can survive and remain viable in the accountable care era that is using IT to prevent billing for pricey, redundant tests that had previously sustained the specialty.

Reimbursement cuts have affected many health professionals, including radiologists. These cutbacks place even more importance on making use of the data you have in order to remain profitable. Doing so allows for continued innovation and investment, and ensures that the latest imaging systems and talent are available to patients.

More can be discovered from data analysis than just the sources and volume of referrals.

In response, many radiology departments are leveraging the data they currently have -- without the help of clinical decision support systems -- to optimize their workflows, operations and revenue stream. Some have turned to marketing teams -- whether they be internal resources or third parties -- to guide their branding process and aid them in advertising their services to physicians, hospitals and patients.

In today's competitive healthcare arena, traditional marketing strategies won't provide an edge for an imaging center or a radiology group attempting to reach its target audience, which in most cases is the referring physicians and their staff.

Marketing strategies vary from group to group, but the method of reaching out to the masses stays the same. Whether the communication is done through social media, email, traditional mail or phone calls and events, the key is to have a consistent yet adaptable approach.

As is the case with most marketing campaigns, getting insight into how the target market reacts to specific events is crucial to the campaign because it provides tangible measures on the marketing efforts. To accomplish that, there are many analytics functions and service providers that can reach within the billing system or radiology information system to extract valuable claim information. These systems contain the referring source the patients came from. This information hasn't traditionally been of interest to anyone in marketing, but now it's taking center stage as a way to accurately gauge and track referral trends.

Some of the common reports gathered from analysis performed on data extracted from a billing system are as follows:

  • Referral volume over time by physician, practice and affiliation
  • Patterns in referral source changes
  • Analysis of billed procedures by source
  • Revenue loss or gain
  • Referral pattern changes post-campaigns and after special events

More can be discovered from data analysis than just the sources and volume of referrals. Data can also provide facts that can differentiate one group from its competitors. Information around the speed and efficiency of scheduling a visit, case volume, average procedure durations or patient flow cycle time can be great data that can confirm the effectiveness of a department and set their services apart from their competitors.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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