Reinventing Radiology: A “Hot Tub Time Machine” Journey


Reinventing Radiology: A “Hot Tub Time Machine” Journey
By Scott Seidelmann, Founder & CEO, Candescent Health

Leg warmers?? Jehri curl?? Neon suits?? Where’s the beef?! Ahhhh!!

Walking into the McCormick Place for RSNA 2015 in December felt like a scene right out of “Hot Tub Time Machine,” a cheesy sci-fi comedy where the lead characters transport via their hot tub to the year 1986. They’re stuck reliving the past – mistakes and all.

Be honest – doesn’t radiology feel stuck?

Every year, the RSNA attracts tens of thousands of industry leaders to showcase and discuss the latest and greatest in imaging innovation. You walk the exhibit floor and hear: “This new MRI software will enable faster and more efficient exams” or “let us show you these cool new visualizations in high-quality 3D!”  These types of innovations have always been revealed at shows like RSNA, but are they enough to make the changes we really need?

There was a time when imaging centers were like ATMs and every health system understood their value – they generated money. It was a time when fee-for-service reigned supreme. Everyone saved lives and made money doing it.  There was a shortage of high-tech imaging equipment and a shortage of radiologists. Now, there is a surplus of both and reimbursement is under significant pressure.

Today, our greatest challenge is to quantify the real healthcare value that imaging technologies are creating. We need to demonstrate quantifiably how imaging increases outcomes per dollar spent. How does imaging (and more importantly, radiologists) improve emergency department throughput, lower length of stay, increase patient satisfaction and hospital loyalty, and/or lower the total cost of care?  What is the ROI for imaging?! The U.S. spends more than $70B annually on imaging.  If imaging cannot prove that it saves $70,000,000,001.00 on the other $2T, then it is a commodity and reimbursements will (and should) decline.

The change we need will not come from just implementing new technology.  We need to look at our organizations, our processes, our compensation models and our cultures more holistically to figure out how to change them to deliver greater healthcare value.  To start, we need to understand what the real customer needs are from imaging and what value it creates.

At the end of Hot Tub Time Machine, one of the main characters stays in the past to correct his mistakes and reinvent his future.  If we could go back in time 20 years and figure out how imaging drives value, then today’s RSNA floor would be swarming with population health managers, benefits managers for Fortune 500 companies and healthcare system CEOs.

Ok, so we don’t have a time machine…but it’s not too late to change the future. I can’t wait to see what RSNA can look like then.

P.S. I borrowed “The Hot Tub Time Machine” analogy from a good friend and long time RSNA veteran. For all I know he borrowed it from someone else, but I thank him nonetheless!