By Marianne Matthews

Find out what readers told us about their relationship and rapport with patients.

doctor female_patientWe hear so much today about the importance of patient engagement for radiology providers.  But just what are imaging centers and private practices doing to improve the patient experience, get closer to the consumer, and, ultimately, build business? To find out, Axis Imaging News conducted an online survey with readers. We received feedback from 156 radiology providers. The majority—63%—listed their job title as Radiology Administrator/Manager.  Here’s what we learned.

Tell Us Like It Is: We’re Listening!

If asking for feedback is an indicator of commitment to the consumer, then radiology providers are on the case. A whopping 88% said that they have conducted in the past, or they currently perform, patient satisfaction surveys.

Does your practice/imaging center conduct patient surveys to gauge satisfaction levels and ultimately improve the patient experience?

78%   Yes, regularly

10%   Yes, in the past

5%     No, and we do not plan to

4%     No, but we plan to

Talk Is Cheap!

com_form2content_p23_f18054_653There’s an old saying that the best form of advertising is word-of-mouth. That’s because it’s credible and it’s cost-effective; 36% of respondents estimated that 10% to 25% of their new referrals are the result of positive word-of-mouth from patients.

Approximately what percentage of your new patients comes to your practice or imaging center based on a “word-of-mouth” referral from another patient?

36%   10-25%

35%   Less than 10%

19%   25-50%

7%     50-75%

1%     75-100%

Curious and Cautious About Dose

Our reader survey indicates that consumers are cautious about the harms of radiation exposure from medical imaging exams. They’re communicating with providers and actively seeking out information—51% of respondents said patients are inquiring about dose and some are even avoiding scans.

In your experience, how aware/concerned are consumers when it comes to radiation dose/exposure? 

51%   We’ve had patients inquire about radiation dose and scanning.

31%   Our patients have shown little, if any, concern or awareness regarding radiation dose.

13%   We’ve had patients refuse to undergo a particular scan because of the radiation exposure.

4%     We’ve had patients request their scan on a specific vendor’s equipment/scanner because they knew it was low-dose technology.

Willing to Open Their Wallets

dollarsign_brushThink consumers insist on insurance coverage before undergoing every scan? Think again. Providers told us consumers are willing to pay out-of-pocket for select imaging services—with low dose lung cancer screening leading the way.

Do your patients pay you out-of-pocket for any of the following?

46%   Low dose lung cancer screening

27%   Other*

16%   Breast tomosynthesis

9%     Preventive whole body scans

*Providers say consumers are also willing to foot the bill for these “other” imaging tests:

– Automated breast ultrasound

– Cardiac CT for coronary calcium scoring


On Marketing Methods and Madmen

Imaging centers and private practices are looking beyond traditional referral business and marketing direct-to-consumers. However, they appear to be dabbling in various marketing programs, but no single communications vehicle emerges as the favored approach. Interestingly, old-fashioned print advertising ranked higher than social media—18% say they advertise yet only 13% use social media. What’s more, respondents appear divided on the value of retaining an advertising agency—41% have used one, but 49% have not.

Which of the following methods do you use to market your practice or imaging center directly to consumers? 

18%   Print Advertising

17%   Special Events (ie, community health fairs; on-premise events; etc)

13%   Social Media

13%   Promotional Mailings

11%   Radio Advertising

7%     Television Advertising

9%     Outdoor Advertising (ie, billboards; bus shelters; etc)

6%     No, I do not market direct to consumers

1%     Other (please specify)

Have you ever hired an agency or consultant to help promote your practice or imaging center directly to consumers?

49%   No, and I have no plans to

22%   Yes, presently

19%   Yes, in the past

8%     No, but I plan to