Radiologists, travel agents and whale oil salesmen


Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed a stunning new rule that would allow certified nurse practitioners (CNPs) to “order, perform, supervise and interpret complex imaging studies,” such as MRI and CT, without physician oversight and regardless of state law.

James Borgstede, M.D., (Professor of Radiology-Diagnostics at the University of Colorado at Denver) warned of this more than eight years ago at the RSNA 2007 Annual Meeting. In “Radiology: Commodity or Specialty?” Borgstede claimed that the profession of radiology requires the integration of four linked components:

  1. Pre-examination evaluation for necessity and appropriateness,
  2. Monitoring of exam quality,
  3. Interpretation of exam results and,
  4. A post-examination consultation with the referring physician.1

In many hospital imaging departments and IDTFs, radiologists perform only the interpretation and have little or no involvement (or interest) in the remaining three responsibilities. Combine this with the growing trend toward outsourced teleradiology on nights and weekends along with radiologist’s lack of visibility to both referring physician and patient, and it’s no wonder the “commodity perception” exists.

Borgstede also claimed that technology is “driving the radiology specialty toward commoditization through digitization, increased bandwidth, picture archiving and communications systems, computer-assisted detection, and improved transfer software.”

There is no doubt that the advent of technology has and will continue to transform industries. The light bulb and cheap electricity rendered gas lighting obsolete, which in turn had replaced the various derivatives of whale oil, lard, coal and alcohol used for burning in the mid-1800s. The internet gave rise to self-serve travel websites which decimated the ranks of travel agents as consumers found they could do just as good a job at booking their own travel, while saving themselves money in the process.

Yet, obsolescence need not to be the destiny of the radiologist. Those in the know understand that their work is too valuable to be left up to less experienced clinicians whose skills and training simply cannot compare, and which would negatively impact quality.

According to Paul Ellenbogen, M.D., former Chairman of the Board of Chancellors of the American College of Radiology, “radiologists should focus more on consulting with patients and referring physicians, assessing the appropriateness of imaging requests before doing the studies, controlling utilization management, serving on hospital committees and boards, and participating in conferences and grand rounds of other specialties.”2

In other words, you need to become more useful to physicians and improve you visibility.

However, becoming more “visible” with a heavy workload can be challenging. That’s where marketing comes into play.

With marketing, you can educate referring physicians, inform them of new services relevant to their practice, communicate positive changes within your organization, postulate opinions and much more. Marketing serves as the radiologist’s voice within the physician community, and can help overcome misperceptions or clarify issues that negatively impact your profession.

Marketing also represents and opportunity for you to build awareness and credibility among patient populations. For too long, radiologists have ignored this extremely important audience, as patient demand can actually shape and influence physician referral patterns. Put simply, if you haven’t given your patients an explanation as to why you are a critical part of their care, why should they care who reads their study?



  1. Radiology: Commodity or Specialty, James P. Borgstede, MD, From the Department of Radiology, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, 12401 E 17th Ave, Aurora, CO 80045. From the 2007 RSNA Annual Meeting. Received December 19, 2007; accepted January 7, 2008; final version accepted January 10
  2. Ellenbogen P . The “P word.” J Am Coll Radiol. 2012;9:603




Armada Medical Marketing Brings Expertise to Minnesota Conference

The Associates for Medical Imaging Management

Armada Medical Marketing will bring its expertise to the 41st Annual Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) Meeting and Exposition July 28-31 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Exhibiting at booth No. 126, Armada’s staff will share their expertise in developing successful, award-winning integrated marketing campaigns for hospitals, diagnostic imaging centers and radiology groups around the nation.

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The Next Challenge for Radiology Practices: RBMA Summit

Next week’s Radiology Business Management Association Radiology Summit is in our own backyard, taking place at the historic Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Each year, RBMA provides a great opportunity to network with radiology professionals and practice administrators and share strategies in all areas of health care marketing.

Challenges in marketing to consumers, referring physicians and current patients are ever-present for leaders in radiology. We’re seeing radiology companies struggle with online reviews, decreasing modality volume and missed opportunities to get their name and associated expertise in the news.

Armada Medical Marketing will host booth #107 at RBMA and both Jim and Jennifer are eagerly awaiting introductions, questions and case studies of how to apply strategic marketing practices in an outpatient diagnostic imaging setting. Some “hot topics” we’ve seen over the past year have allowed us to create marketing campaigns to support our clients. Take a look…

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Facts, Stats and Graphs

Imagine the Power of Imagery160939709

2012 was the year of imagery and health care marketers strategically applied visuals to a variety of social and marketing platforms. 2013 is no different. For the health care industry, graphics alone may not get the point across. Therefore, infographics are a great route for health care marketers. Infographics provide graphic visuals that present data and information.

Get the Words to Stick

With the popularity of sites such as StumbleUpon, it is clear that attention spans are diminishing with the average person leaving a page within 10 to 20 seconds. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text and text is only 7 percent of daily communication. That is not to say text is completely obsolete. Words play a major role in describing abstract ideas and conveying a specific message, which is important for health care marketing. But words are supplemental to visuals, which can help grasp a reader’s attention.

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Building, Sharing Expertise at Future Conferences

Armada Medical Marketing added eight conferences in 2013 and looks forward to networking, showcasing our marketing expertise and learning more about the latest in radiology and the medical imaging industry.


RBMA: Marketing Conference

San Antonio

Armada’s first conference in 2013 is the RMBA — Radiology Business Management Association   marketing conference March 10-12 in the home of the ‘ol Alamo! Jenn and Calvin are attending and look forward to sharing our integrated marketing mix with attendees and learning what radiology marketing practices have worked for others.

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New Name, New Brand

Client: Anova Cancer Care

Project: Comprehensive Rebranding, Renaming Campaign

Planning/Goals of Project:

Anova Cancer Care (formerly Denver CyberKnife) engaged Armada to create a comprehensive rebranding and lead generation campaign to support their recent name change. The direct-response lead-generation campaign was supported by a multimedia broadcast, newsprint and magazine advertising media buy, as well as an aggressive SEO campaign, and launched in early summer 2012.

Extensive consultation with our client and its physician outreach representatives revealed that, although the company had been marketing its services for several years, patients were generally uninformed of the benefits of CyberKnife treatment. For example, consumers were consistently surprised to learn that CyberKnife treatment is just as effective as other forms of cancer treatment; can be completed in five sessions; is non-invasive; and does not produce the typical side effects associated with surgery or other forms of radiation therapy. In short, the company had failed to find an advertising message that resonated with patients, accurately explaining the technology or effectively raising their expectations about cancer treatment.

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