Chairman Bob Barlow Discusses EagleEye’s Unique Journey

Bob Barlow

Five years ago, at the request of our website editor, I prepared a statement reflecting my observations drawn from my first two years’ experience as EagleEye’s Chairman. What had originally been conceived as a short-term tenure has, to my considerable surprise, evolved into participation in a challenging management venture of greater duration – and I have been persuaded to offer some comments on that venture.

In my original statement, I expressed the view that EagleEye’s strength lay in the professional skill of its radiologists, most of whom were military-trained and virtually all of whom were comparatively young with an average age just above 40. This conclusion is as accurate today as it was then, with the caveat that our professional services have been bolstered by a stable and dedicated administrative staff working together at our Northern Virginia headquarters office.

My original statement also included three observations on the “teleradiology marketplace”: first, that it included numerous companies large and small, with the pricing of their services ruling the roost; second, that third-party reimbursement, dominated by Medicare and Medicaid, exerts continued downward pressure on the amount that can be realized for teleradiology services; and third, that improved technology is constantly being introduced to the means by which teleradiology services are provided, with the resultant pressure on providers to keep up, if not ahead.

These observations are also as true today as they were five years ago. But at the same time, we have learned that there are other forces impacting our marketplace – perhaps the most significant of which is the increasing incidence of professional liability suits and the resulting increase in the cost of liability insurance. In our view, the significant majority of claims brought against EagleEye are totally without merit (a view not disputed by our insurer). In the real world of malpractice litigation, however, it is simply cheaper (although not without significant cost) for the insurer to settle a claim than take it to litigation. And in the end, the cost of defense translates into increased professional liability premiums. For our part, in recognizing this reality, we have reorganized the “shifts” to be covered by our radiologists so that there is surplus coverage of the busiest shifts, thereby lessening the potential burden on an over-taxed radiologist and minimizing the risk of an inadequate interpretation.

As I said five years ago, EagleEye’s strength lies in the professional skill and vigor of its radiologists. It is the job of management to provide those physicians with the business environment that maximizes their opportunity to serve our clients’ patients at the highest level of professional quality, to minimize turn-around times, and to instill in our clients’ staffs a sense that we are part of their team. In my view, this last point bears emphasizing: as a practical matter, it is too easy for health care staffs to regard the teleradiologist as a formless entity providing requested interpretations, and it is up to us, through constant personal contact, to prove our commitment to the client’s task at hand.

Bob Barlow has been a member and Chairman of EagleEye’s Board since the Fall of 2011. As described in his biography, he has enjoyed vast experience in the construction, manufacturing, real estate and banking industries, and currently sits on the board of several start-up companies. Bob lives in Great Falls, Virginia – in close proximity to EagleEye’s headquarters in a data center on the Dulles high-tech corridor.