The U.S. is experiencing some of the highest inflation rates in three decades, sending shockwaves across virtually every industry. As consumers, you’re seeing it in the rising prices of your everyday purchases, and as operational executives of diagnostic imaging centers, you’re seeing it in your rising costs and shrinking profit margins.
So, what are the effects of inflation on diagnostic imaging centers across the country? And how can you overcome them, given the volatility of the economy, labor market, and supply chain?
How Rising Inflation is Affecting Your Operations
While healthcare inflation has grown at a slower rate than other sectors over the past few years, that may soon change due to the effects of the following:
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Higher Labor Costs
Labor costs are on the rise. In fact, they’re experiencing the highest surge since 2001. And this historical period deemed “The Great Resignation” shows no signs of slowing, with more than 4.4 million Americans quitting their jobs in February 2022.
This labor shortage, combined with the increase in labor costs of new and existing staff, is putting tremendous pressure on diagnostic imaging centers already struggling to fill administrative and front office positions.
Higher Costs of Supplies
Rising inflation, severe supply chain disruptions, and elevated raw materials costs are also affecting the prices of office and medical supplies. Even paper prices are experiencing 6% to 15% increases.
How to Offset the Effects of Healthcare Inflation at Your Diagnostic Imaging Center
Rising inflation is an unfortunate reality diagnostic imaging centers must face, and experts are predicting the upward trend to continue.
Higher Out-of-Pocket Costs for Patients
Many organizations across industries are passing along the additional costs to their customers—a practice being questioned by economists, politicians, and consumers. But even a price increase may not be enough.
According to a McKinsey analysis, a typical health system’s ability to raise prices is limited to around 3 percent. Assuming this cap, health systems would still experience a 1.2% to 2.8% decrease in profit margins.
Eventually, diagnostic imaging centers and healthcare companies may also demand higher reimbursement rates for insurers – an outcome which is unlikely given the trend of declining reimbursements over the past 10 years.
So, if higher prices and higher reimbursement rates are unlikely, what else can diagnostic imaging centers do to remain profitable in economic challenges?
Optimize and Automate Operations
Diagnostic imaging centers will need to leverage technology to reduce the amount of manual labor required and create operational efficiencies at their practices. Standard administrative workflows at radiology practices center around manual processes for scheduling, physician referrals, and patient engagement.
These processes are plagued by debilitating bottlenecks that require manual labor and front office personnel that many diagnostic imaging centers can’t retain or recruit, especially at existing labor costs.
In a period of rising inflation, diagnostic imaging centers will have no choice but to lean on patient-centric technology to streamline operational and administrative workflows while still providing an optimal patient experience.
Eliminate Patient No-Shows
Beyond optimizing operations, diagnostic imaging centers must find innovative ways to maximize their revenues. Patient no-shows leave billions of dollars on the table for medical practices.
Industry patient no-show average of 20% for MRIs alone, according to a Risk Management and Healthcare Technology Research Paper, recapturing that missed revenue can make the difference between missed and exceeded revenue goals.
By implementing automated patient engagement solutions, diagnostic imaging centers can reduce their patient no-show volume and also help offset some of the inevitable costs of rising inflation.