The overwhelming challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic caused medical physics practices all over the world to pivot their management strategies or accelerate ones already in the works. Although the emergencies attending the pandemic may be subsiding, many practices rightfully have their eyes on the future and are hard at work determining what their company may look like for the future.
In addition, the healthcare industry has reached a point where size and scale aren’t just “nice-to-haves” but must-haves. A report from Deloitte shows how health systems are rapidly consolidating—in late 2020, the top ten health systems controlled 24 percent of the market share. And as health systems are increasing in size, so are the scope of the conversations.
As the largest outsourced medical physics services company in the U.S., we’ve seen healthcare consolidation firsthand and witnessed how practices are changing. Here are some of the areas you can expect to see from practice owners and physicists in the future.
Listen and Act on Customer Feedback
Going forward, successful medical or biomedical physics practices must have the willingness and infrastructure to collect and absorb customer feedback. Though satisfying regulators’ requirements may have been enough at one time, it isn’t anymore.
Today, medical physics practices should have a system to generate real-time customer feedback and input. Ways to garner this feedback include surveys, quarterly business reviews and customer advocacy and advisory committees. But it’s not just about listening. Practices need to demonstrate how they are listening by taking this feedback and turning it into action. The more proactive you are, the better when it comes to customer relationships.
Focus on Transparency Every practice has problems. And instead of refusing to acknowledge or hide from them, we encourage practices to take on a “show and tell” approach to demonstrating what’s being done to address any issues.
Transparency is a tremendous asset to a business. Customers see great value in understanding what you’re doing and how you’re doing the work. Technology can help a lot in this area. As we’ve seen at Apex, a digital format can allow customers to track in real-time all the critical components related to medical health physics services that we provide.
In addition, transparency can also help regulators see that your practice is not only meeting standards but exceeding them.
Meet Demands of Size and Scale When I started at Kruger-Gilbert Health Physics, the company that would become Apex Physics Partners, the initial conversations with clients were at the facility level. That has moved to the regional and national levels.
In these conversations, national organizations operating in multiple regions set expectations that everything is standardized and managed. And, they want to make sure a health system has the resources, staffing, and systems to meet these expectations across multiple markets. However, in certain instances, these national organizations also will request that a health system have the flexibility to offer customized programs that match the internal goals of their organization and meet or even exceed regulatory standards or standard operating procedures.
Any practice that operates on a large scale or aspires to must be prepared to demonstrate how they can localize services within their communities and provide a holistic approach to management. Those who cannot show this reach and flexibility will struggle to stay relevant to their providers and face intense competition from larger companies fighting for the same footprint.
Make Medical Physicists True Partners
At Apex, we’ve placed a significant emphasis on giving our medical physicists a leadership voice. Whereas some medical physicists seem content in focusing on their areas of expertise, many are eager to contribute their ideas on management and new services growth.
Getting buy-in from subject matter experts and making them feel like true partners can yield numerous benefits for any health system so that the medical professionals can do their best work.
Weaving subject matter experts into the fabric of management can also relieve some of the administrative challenges that any growing and consolidating health system might face. Being able to lean on subject matter experts in critical areas is critical for any system growing in scope and complexity.
Put a Priority on Continuing Education One way to raise the bar across a health system’s entire portfolio is to invest deeply in continuing education for medical physicists. Consider creating a peer-reviewed process for radiation physicists and other medical professionals to help ensure a higher standard of patient care and service. Not only will it make your practice stronger by sharing best practices and learnings, but it also helps attract new and emerging talent, as there is a huge demand for physicists.
Apex has a strong learning culture, and we work hard to improve our efforts in this area daily. Our peer network and ability to collaborate with many practices across the country only make our entire team stronger, creating a bigger opportunity for physicists to contribute more learnings and services to the industry overall.
Increasing Prices as You Increase Value Pricing is a sensitive topic in healthcare, especially given the resource-constrained environment we find ourselves in as we all work to manage and live through the pandemic. As a result, people are looking at each budget line item with a more intense level of scrutiny, and that’s why, from a positioning standpoint, doing the bare minimum is risky.
People are willing to pay for value, but they’re not willing to pay more for the same. Thus, medical physics practices must prove that they’re adding value to healthcare delivery daily. Providing coverage across a large platform and giving clients real-time visibility through a client portal are examples of value adds you can provide.
The past eighteen months have been enormously difficult for medical practices all over the world. A successful medical health physics practice will not only bounce back from the challenges of the pandemic but also take away valuable lessons on management and the delivery of care.
Cancer doesn’t sleep, but the United States has less than 7,000 qualified medical physicists serving oncology patients today. This means that if you’re running a radiation oncology unit or a cancer treatment center, you’re either a “have,” or a “have not.” Too many clinics are in danger of becoming “have nots” because they’re falling prey
Like many health-care providers, we at Apex Physics Partners have been challenged to adapt flexibly to an evolving market in recent years. That makes our recognition as one of the 2022 Best Workplaces in Health Care by Fortune and Great Place to Work (GPTW) especially meaningful. We’re greatly honored that 91 percent of Apex employees