In a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that radiologists turned around imaging reports significantly faster following hospital implementation of a pay-for-performance program that rewarded speedy reporting. Specifically, the mean time from scan complete to signed report went from 42.7 hours to 31.6 hours in the 3 month period after implementation. The specific target of the program was reduction in the time it took staff radiologists to provide final signatures on initial reports prepared by residents. In the initial stage of the program, radiologists whose review time averaged less than 24 hours during the evaluation period were offered $2,500 every six months. MGH achieved this goal- radiologist review went from 22.7 hours to 12.6 hours. Interestingly, turnaround time remained low even after MGH abandoned the program- mean total turnaround times were 16.3 hours in the 3 month period after program termination. The researchers also mention that monetary incentives were likely not the only factor that lead to improved radiologist report turnaround. Simply providing transparency of performance, as in pay-for-reporting programs, also encourages improvement.
This latest report follows a general trend of hospital's raising service standards for radiologists, an area we discussed in our national meeting speech, "Re-envisioning the Imaging Enterprise" and a recent webconference, "Trends in Hospital-Radiologist Contracting."