Interpersonal skill training may reduce MRI costs for patients, boost revenue for providers

Applying interpersonal skills training to MRI staff may result in cost reduction for exams and greater operational efficiency, according to a study published online March 9 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.  

"We found significant improvements in MRI operational efficiency after interpersonal skills team training, which were associated with reductions in costs and growth in revenue," wrote lead author Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, with UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.  

From February to April 2015, staff members at two hospital-based and two freestanding MRI sites were trained to help patients use innate coping skills in response to any distress they experienced during their MRI visits, according to study methods. The study included 12,930 outpatient visits. 

Participating staff members at all four locations were expected to report incidences including disruptive motion, sedation use, MRI delays, incomplete examinations and no-shows. Additionally, total MRI operations and staff costs were estimated using Medicare and private insurance rates and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the researchers wrote.  

Results of the study included the following:  

  • From baseline to follow-up, average monthly patient volume increased from 1,105 to 1,463 at hospital MRI sites and from 245 to 313 at freestanding MRI sites.  
  • Patient factors necessitating sedation or interfering with image progression or quality decreased from 9 percent to 5.5 percent at hospital sites and from 3.1 percent to 1.2 percent at freestanding sites.  
  • Operational costs were reduced $4,600 per 1,000 scheduled patients, and profits increased $8,370 per 1,000 scheduled patients in hospital MRI sites.  
  • Researchers noted a corresponding increase in operational costs of $1,570 per 1,000 scheduled-patients and an increase in profit of $12,800 per 1,000 scheduled patients in freestanding MRI sites.