/ by Timothy Myers


Radiology groups don't want to hear that their failing practice is directly related to the state of their company's leadership; it is far easier to place the responsibility for a blundered imaging strategy on clinicians, administrators, and a series of ever-evolving changes—changes to the market, to health care, government regulations or shifts in reimbursement. Placing the blame on external factors is often a root cause of their failure, however. This is why Capstone leadership keeps it focus on solid, foundational imaging principles in order to deliver measurable quality, improved patient care—and a healthy practice. 

American economist Theodore Levitt discussed the concept of "marketing myopia" in a landmark article by the same name in a 2004 issue of the Harvard Business Review--and it's a concept that is ripe for application to the health care industry. Viewing the potential for growth or decline in imaging services within a myopic framework looks like this: With time, a radiology group's growth can stall or fail due to its leadership's inability to understand the true and changing nature of its clients, products or services. This is not a failure of leadership, it is a failure of the leadership, and it means even hospitals and radiology groups with good leaders are not immune to the development of a fatal, myopic view of what their true focus should be. 

The Myopic Approach to Imaging
Radiology leadership that fails to take a broad view of the foundational role that imaging plays in the patient care spectrum is opting instead for a narrow view of "product" rather than "service." This is where the issue begins, as we know imaging is in the service business, and not the product business. That service, working in conjunction with hospital administration, clinicians and other health care practitioners, is to deliver accurate and appropriate care to injured or ill patients. In this paradigm, radiologists are part of a team and not in a vacuum, because they play an incredibly important, and therefore foundational, role in delivering that service. 

In a myopic imaging culture, a radiology group's leadership ceases to evaluate or look for cues in the environment that lead to improved satisfaction by the patient care team. The outcome for a group with this viewpoint is the inability to address the care team's concerns and requirements. Instead, that misled group moves toward an introspective, or insular, view of radiology as a product and concentrates more on increased speed, production and efficiency. 

By failing to focus on service, imaging becomes a liability, and ceases to be a change agent for improved patient care, cost containment and a driver for value-added utilization management. 

This "self-deceiving cycle," as Levitt describes it, is one in which a group locks itself into a flawed course of action that appears to be the right choice, but is actually the catalyst behind the group's demise. In radiology, the flaw is the idea that efficiency and productivity are more important than quality, collegiality and service. Once this flaw is embedded in the minds of a radiology group's leadership, that group becomes expendable, and for hospitals, changing to another radiology service provider is usually necessary. 

Consider a Broad Approach to Radiology Service
The questions we ask as we consider courses of action and potential improvements are: 

1. Will this improve patient care and will it result in the clinician being better prepared to treat the patient?

2. Will this answer a client (patient, clinician or hospital administration) concern and will it result in improved quality, lowered cost and/or improved patient care? 

3. Is this designed to improve the group's visibility as a provider of world-class radiology services, will it help differentiate us as unique, and will it be seen by our clients as an enhancement that will have a positive impact on patient care? 

The answers to these questions ensure we keep the focus on our clients, our mission and vision. With this attention to service, and not product, we also demonstrate that what we provide is not a commodity, further separating ourselves from more product-driven groups.