Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Outsourced radiologists perform better reading for fewer hospitals

Date:
January 4, 2013
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Experience working for a particular hospital matters when it comes to the performance of radiologists who work for outsourcing teleradiology companies, according to a team of researchers, whose finding could have important implications, given the growing use of telemedicine.

Experience working for a particular hospital matters when it comes to the performance of radiologists who work for outsourcing teleradiology companies, according to a team of researchers, whose finding could have important implications, given the growing use of telemedicine.

Related Articles


"More than half of all hospitals now use teleradiology services," said Jonathan Clark, assistant professor of health policy and administration, Penn State. "Hospitals send their X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other images to outsourcing companies who then forward the images to individual radiologists. Over the course of time, these radiologists gain a tremendous amount of experience by reading images from hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of customers."

But is the experience gained by reading images for so many hospitals the same as the experience gained by repeatedly reading images for just a few hospitals?

"There is debate out there about whether or not we should be outsourcing this kind of work," Clark said. "Some say that one CT is the same as another, so it doesn't really matter if the CT is coming from Hospital A or Hospital B; what matters is that the person reading the image has the right training and experience. The other side of the debate says that radiological images are not commodities and that the process is more nuanced than simply exchanging bits of information over the information super highway. From this perspective a radiologist's performance will improve as he or she learns the nuances of reading images from a particular hospital."

To determine whether learning and performance improvement are customer specific, the researchers, who also included Robert Huckman of the Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined the experience and productivity of 97 radiologists reading more than 2.7 million images from 1,431 hospitals.

"By estimating learning curves, we were able to determine the extent to which a radiologist's productivity reading an image for hospital A was a function of his or her prior experience reading for hospital A, versus his or her prior experience reading the same image for other hospitals," Clark said.

The team found that the radiologist's prior experience with an ordering customer has a greater effect on performance than his or her overall experience reading the same type of image for other customers.

"Somebody might look at that finding and say either what we should have is outsourcing radiologists who read for only a few customers or we shouldn't have outsourcing at all," Clark said, "because if you're going to focus a radiologist on one or two customers, then you might as well make the argument that you should have him or her work as an employee for that customer."

The researchers also found that the customer-specific knowledge gained by individual radiologists is aided by the variety of customers with whom a radiologist has experience.

"How can it be that both specialization and variety are important?" Clark said. "Our models can only take us so far toward answering this question, but we think the implication is that there are limits to both customer specialization and customer variety, and that the optimum is to have a nice mix of both specialized experience and variety in customers."

In addition, Clark, Huckman and Staats found that the customer specificity of learning diminished as the outsourcing company gained more experience with a particular customer.

"The implication is that customer-specific capabilities may also be built at the level of the outsourcing organization as a whole and not just at the level of the individual radiologist," Clark said. "Overall, this finding suggests that while there is customer specificity to learning for outsourcing radiologists, the implication is not that we shouldn't outsource. Rather, our findings provide guidance to outsourcers in terms of how they might think about designing the work of their radiologists to maximize productivity. For new customers, an outsourcing firm may wish to keep individual providers relatively more focused on serving a specific customer. As organizational experience accrues with a specific customer, however, such dedication becomes less critical."

The results of the study appeared online on December 20, 2012, in the journal Organization Science.

"Our findings may be particularly important, given the growing use of telemedicine and the uncertainty associated with delivering health care in a virtual way. In the setting we studied, teleradiologists are often reading emergency cases, where speed and productivity can be critical, so it is important for outsourcing radiology firms to understand how they might design their operations to improve performance and ensure a rapid response for each customer."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. R. Clark, R. S. Huckman, B. R. Staats. Learning from Customers: Individual and Organizational Effects in Outsourced Radiological Services. Organization Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1120.0796

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Outsourced radiologists perform better reading for fewer hospitals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104143656.htm>.
Penn State. (2013, January 4). Outsourced radiologists perform better reading for fewer hospitals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104143656.htm
Penn State. "Outsourced radiologists perform better reading for fewer hospitals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104143656.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins