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Interventional radiology: Leading the way to increased growth, reduced costs, and improved patient care

April 19, 2021
Operating Room X-Ray
From the April 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Dr. Raymond W. Liu, and Dr. C. Matthew Hawkins

The healthcare industry is at a tipping point. Patients personally engage in their care more than ever and seek treatment options that are less invasive and more promising.
At the same time, the Biden administration has reinvigorated the push toward value-based care that prioritizes value over fee-for-service. These factors are forcing hospitals and healthcare systems to rethink their care delivery model in order to diversify their portfolios and provide high-quality patient care. What if one particular specialty could help the healthcare system meet these critical goals?

Interventional radiologists (IRs) are leading the way in the transformational shift toward value-based healthcare. Estimates predict the IR market to be valued at $29.2 billion by 2024 — a 6.1% compounded annual growth rate, creating opportunities for high-quality, cost-conscious treatments. As the field’s advancements in research and cutting-edge technological treatments expand, so too has the role of the interventional radiologist in patient care. Leveraging the skills of IRs and giving them a larger role in the care team can help hospitals and health systems generate revenue, reduce costs, and improve both patient care and the patient experience.

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Interventional radiologists generate revenue and drive growth
Interventional radiologists are projected to increase outpatient procedures by 23% over the next ten years, providing hospitals a tremendous growth opportunity. IRs perform highly efficient procedures with short recovery times, ideally suited for outpatient and lower cost free-standing centers. The specialty also has the capability to effectively manage outpatients after discharge, avoiding readmissions and potentially leading to additional cost savings. One model of a hypothetical IR clinic predicted $992,000 in annual charges and collected revenues of $298,000 as a result of robust outpatient IR care. IR is expected to lead in growth among some of the most lucrative specialties. By contributing positively to the bottom line, IRs help administrators focus on growing their reach and generating new revenue streams.

From a competitive standpoint, IR provides cutting-edge care that uses its advanced technological reputation to influence patients’ care decisions. Having robust IR capabilities in the inpatient setting could aid in attracting more patients. From an ambulatory perspective, one health system experienced a 722% increase in Evaluation and Management billing charges over three years as a result of their IR inpatient care, with work relative value units (wRVUs) increasing by 669%. As more patients look for innovative treatments that are less invasive and require a shorter recovery time, demand for IR treatments will most likely continue to grow.

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