Economics Forum Part 1

Storytelling and branding are important parts of radiology's future.


The importance of storytelling took center stage during part one of Monday’s ACR 2016 Economics Forum as Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, kicked off the proceedings by introducing a speaker the likes of whom annual conference attendees don’t often hear from: a marketing guru.

Rosemarie Ryan, co-CEO and a founder of Co:Collective, a strategy and innovation company that works to revolutionize the customer experience, spoke to the audience about her concept of “StoryDoing” as it relates to radiology. This novel approach involves storytelling that leads to organizational change that, in turn, engenders customer loyalty. Ryan’s message to radiologists in attendance was a simple one: you must figure out what radiology’s story is.

Storytelling isn't about advertising or communications, explained Ryan, a longtime veteran of the advertising business who previously worked as CEO at the marketing communications company J. Walter Thompson: it's about building radiology’s story into the patient experience. And if radiologists don’t do it, someone will come along and do it for them. “Starting with your story,” asserted Ryan, “helps you know where to focus. It becomes an organizing strategy.” According to Ryan, radiologists must first articulate and crystallize the story they present to patients.

Once a practice, group, or department has settled on a brand identity, advised Ryan, it must figure out what the pain points are for patients — points in the workflow that cause customer discomfort — and eliminate them. Drawing analogies to companies as diverse as Uber, Zappos, and Jet Blue, Ryan cited examples where visionaries have sought to eliminate customer unease. Once these opportunities have been identified in the radiology workflow, Ryan advised, the final step is deciding which tools, technologies, and partnerships to invest in. Although there has been much talk in the media — and at ACR 2016 — about machine learning, Ryan concluded by assuring the audience that “the one thing radiologists have that robots don’t is your humanity.” She suggested embracing this humanness even as radiology leverages ever more cutting-edge technology.

Grounding the theme of storytelling firmly in the realm of radiology, Ezequiel Silva III, MD, FACR, chair of the College’s Commission on Economics, spoke about the value of taking ownership of radiology’s message for purposes of fair reimbursement. Instruments like the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy InstituteTM Inpatient Cost Evaluation Tool (ICE-T) app, which evaluates imaging costs for each diagnosis-related group to assist members with negotiations for their share of bundled payments, are powerful storytelling mechanisms that will help radiologists demonstrate their value to insurance entities, hospital administrators, and referring clinicians.

Silva went on to underscore the need for a powerful narrative in radiology, especially in light of the reimbursement uncertainty facing imaging experts. “It’s like we’re walking onto a playing field and being asked to perform before the rules of the game have been finalized,” he explained. A compelling narrative, concluded Silva, will enable radiologists on the local level to be successful no matter what the final rules look like.

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