Virtual organizations: key to optimizing service to referring physicians

One of the Nordic region’s largest companies in the area of radiology examinations shares its concept of success.

“A key success factor for a profit-oriented organization is to be on top of the referring physician’s list,” says Hans Olav Almaas, CEO of Norwegian company Curato, one of the Nordic region’s biggest providers of radiology services.

To be attractive to physicians, you have to offer the fastest and most accurate diagnosis. Limited resources and tough demands on efficiency and flexibility give a virtual organization a head start. Hans Olav Almaas has more recipes for success from a private health care provider’s perspective. Read the full interview below.

Keeping pace with development

“One of the biggest challenges a private healthcare provid­er faces today is the rapid technological development,” says Hans Olav Almaas, CEO at Curato. “The only constant is change, I’m the first to agree with Heraclitus! It is crucial that the competence in your organization follow the tech­nological development – otherwise you’re lost,” he contin­ues. “What is today carried out by the radiologist may be performed by the software in future and the radiology pro­fession will develop new competencies. You have to keep pace with change. I strongly believe that an organization must be permeated by a will to change, curiosity and open­ness to survive and grow.”

The virtual organization

“A key factor for success, and ultimately for survival, for a private, profit-oriented organization such as ours, is to be on top of the referring physician’s list. For example, being a partner in the physician’s expertise development by of­fering training courses, seminars, best-practice workshops and related services. ”And most important – to be superior in your service to the physician, you need to offer the fastest most accurate diagnoses.

“To succeed in this, in a world of limited resources and high demands on efficiency and flexibility, I believe the recipe is to form a virtual organization. This way, also the small­est units within the organization can benefit from the full expertise of the enterprise, and resources can be optimally employed. Let me give you an example. A referring phy­sician requests a radiology examination for a patient. The examination is scheduled from a central unit, performed at the unit located nearest to the patient, reviewed at a third unit, where the appropriate competence and resources are available, and finally a second opinion is provided by a spe­cialist colleague at a fourth unit. This way, you get a truly efficient use of resources and also a challenging and devel­opmental environment for the radiologists, who continu­ally broaden their expertise as a result of having access to their colleagues’ expertise through close cooperation in a virtual boundary-less organization.”

Benefits for everyone

“The virtual organization offers benefits for all parties”, Hans Olav Almaas continues. “Most importantly, the pa­tient benefits from a quick and correct diagnosis and in the end better care. This is obtained by radiology manag­ers achieving an efficient use of resources with regards to specialist competence and availability; by the radiologists benefiting from an exciting daily environment, with possi­bilities for expertise development while being able to apply their specialist competence fully; And by the referring phy­sician receiving the best service in the form of fast and ac­curate answers. My loyalty is with the patient. And I believe that if I do what’s best for the patient it is automatically best for my operations. ”

A visionary partner

“But a virtual organization, in the true meaning of the word, is highly dependent on efficient IT-solutions to be able to operate. When we picked our RIS/PACS partner there were three top critera that concluded the choice.

Firstly, the documented ability to deliver on time and bud­get. This often goes hand-in-hand with a large installed base and extensive experience in implementing large proj­ects. Secondly, a superior reading environment. This is vitally important in a competitive environment where we aim to recruit and retain the most competent radiologists. And most importantly; to find a partner with whom we could share our vision of continuous change and who could support us in realizing it today and tomorrow.”

About Curato

Curato is one of the largest radiology companies in the Nordic region. This highly expansive company is a result of a merger of five healthcare organizations in which a com­mon RIS/PACS solution is being implemented. Today, Cu­rato employs 35 radiologists reading 700,000 examinations a year. Curato has agreements with all four of Norway’s Re­gional Health Authorities and operates 12 radiology clin­ics, spread over the entire country. Moreover, they provide reading services for an additional 20 public hospitals.

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