Independent Radiology Is Good for Your Health—and Our Specialty

Building and maintaining a successful practice based on meeting the needs of your patients, the people who live and work in your community, but answering to yourself and your own high standards (as well as those of your partners) is a rewarding way to spend your working hours

Arl Van Moore Jr, MD, FACR
CEO and Chair, Strategic Radiology
September 17, 2019

By Arl Van Moore Jr, MD, FACR

I’m sometimes asked by academic radiologists, residents, and even private practice colleagues why I believe that a vibrant specialty needs a healthy, independent private practice model. I’ve had quite a while to think about this in various leadership roles, so in the interest of brevity, I’ll focus on three of the reasons that have the greatest implications for personal fulfillment.

Ownership promotes physician well-being. Do you enjoy coming to work every day? I enjoyed it for 35+ years before I retired as a partner in my practice earlier this year. Building and maintaining a successful practice based on meeting the needs of your patients, the people who live and work in your community, but answering to yourself and your own high standards (as well as those of your partners) is a rewarding way to spend your working hours. Yes, there are headaches and responsibilities when you own your own business.  These are necessary and unavoidable, but in this era of high physician burnout, the rewards—and ability to call the shots and make changes that are necessary for improvement—make the hard work worthwhile and help reduce the incidence of burnout.

Ownership offers the freedom to innovate. You may not think first of private practice as a place of innovation that can also advance the specialty, but the private practice setting has been an incubator and crucible for many clinical and practice innovations for our specialty.  Independent practice radiologists embraced new technology and helped to make it widely available by pioneering high-quality outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. We introduced service standards that elevated the patient experience while maintaining expert oversight and management of our sophisticated diagnostic tools. Today, many of our practices partner with their health systems in the development, management, oversight, co-management, and sometimes co-ownership of these assets.

Many independent practice radiologists continue to help advance the science of imaging. More than a few patents have originated in private practice settings, sometimes generating new service lines, such as the minimally invasive MSK clinic developed by Joseph C. McGinley, MD, PhD, at SR member practice Casper Medical Imaging. Dr McGinley’s contribution to medicine was motivated by his drive to help a talented high school soccer player continue her athletic career, and he devised a novel treatment to address debilitating calf pain that would have ended her athletic career. Dr McGinley went on to build an international practice for elite athletes at our member practice in Casper, Wyo.

Ownership supports the precept that all medicine is local. Telemedicine notwithstanding, most medical transactions—including patient encounters and hospital and payor contracts—continue to occur on a local basis. Living in, working in, and being a part of the communities where we practice gives radiology a real and public face where our patients live and work. Sharing a community with our patients and friends, supporting the same causes, staffing community hospitals, showing up at PTA meetings, attending Chamber of Commerce meetings is face-time for the specialty and a reminder that we are more than a signature on a report. Living in the communities that make up our country also promotes accountability to our patients.

As Strategic Radiology prepares to enter its second decade, what is most encouraging is that our coalition has never included more member groups than currently—a total of 28 with the addition this year of Asheville Radiology, Mecklenburg Radiology Associates, and Radiology Associates of Tallahassee. Clearly, the flame of independence continues to burn bright within the independent radiology practice community. 

The decision you make to retain full ownership of your practice, to support your patients and community, and to sustain your practice for the long term is in your hands.   The independent private radiology practices that comprise Strategic Radiology have made a deliberate choice to pull together as a team and to build the collaborative infrastructure required to ensure that all member practices succeed together.

Arl Van Moore Jr, MD, FACR, is CEO and Chair of Strategic Radiology.

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