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Is Your Radiology Practice Being Disrupted by Technology?

Posted on 09/10/16

Today it seems like all industries are being disrupted by technology, from taxi cabs to pizza. Whether you are part of a small or large business, if you lack savvy technology skills you are not safe. Are you wondering if radiology will get hit with a technology disruption? Guess what, it is already happening.

Disruption does not just happen overnight, there is a logical progression. There is no specific set of phases across all industries, but if you see any of the signs below, your business is probably about to be disrupted.

Sign #1: Consolidation becomes apparent

Small radiology practices of 3-10 radiologists are starting to realize that their bigger neighbors can operate more efficiently and with better quality. These small practices are finding it financially easier to access technology and infrastructure if they consolidate into larger groups.

Sign #2: Investment

Investment in technology companies, as well as investment in large practices, picks up. Tech for radiology is attracting big dollars like startup Enlitic. It is rare for large investments to be made without the potential for large payoffs due to the rapid growth associated with disruption of an industry.  Large practices have started to attract the attention of the big venture capitalist as well.

Sign #3: Inflated claims from the pundits

With investment comes claims, which are often distilled down to sound bites, like AI and health: Could robots replace our doctors and Will AI soon put radiologists out of a job? Headline-grabbing pronouncements tend to actually excite those who want to invest external capital (although they typically cause “eye rolling” from industry insiders).

Sign #4: Real results

Tech has repeatedly proven it can make people more efficient and improve quality. Large practices (for the most part) have very good turnaround time and a high percentage of subspecialty reads. They often do their own night reads and leverage their superior technology to win contracts. For these reasons, the pay gap between radiologists at big and small private practices has continued to grow.

Looking Beyond Disruption

Disruption is never 100%. You will always have the local pizza place and taxi business that will continue to thrive, where the Uber and Domino’s models do not work.  But, with the growth of sophisticated workflow tools, EMR integration, Artificial Intelligence and specialized software applications, it will be harder and harder for the small practice to compete unless they embrace technology, collaboration and alternative business models.