Chairman Bob Barlow Discusses EagleEye’s Unique Journey

Bob Barlow

It has now been almost two years since I was invited to become involved with the management of EagleEye. Those two years have been as fascinating as any I have experienced during my lifetime exposure to a host of enterprises. I write this article in response to a request by our website editor that I offer some reflections on that experience.

After my first few weeks at EagleEye, it became apparent to me that the strength of the company lay in the professional skill of its radiologists – most of them military-trained and virtually all of them comparatively young (median age 41). It was on this skill and youthful energy that EagleEye had been built since its founding in 2006. What was also apparent, however, was that the EagleEye management team – principally composed of physicians – possessed little management expertise and was internally hampered by the team’s geographic diversity. The store badly needed minding.

Beginning in late 2012, the newly elected Board initiated a number of steps to improve the “business side” of EagleEye: moving virtually all management and support services into the Reston headquarters; improving corporate and financial record-keeping; closing down the company’s internal billing operation and outsourcing to a professional billing company; hiring young but experienced marketing and information technology managers; and investing in improved information technology hardware and software.

Without doubt, the result of these steps has been a significant improvement in EagleEye’s financial condition. But my introduction to the world of managing and marketing the provision of radiology services over the past several months has made clear that numerous challenges exist today and lie ahead tomorrow:

1. There are scores of teleradiology companies, large and small, offering their services on a national basis. The marketplace is highly competitive. Our marketing personnel are repeatedly told that teleradiology services are regarded, not as a professional service, but as a “commodity.” Price, not competence, rules the roost.

2. Third-party reimbursement for physician services continues to decline, and with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, is bound to become even worse. EagleEye as an entity, and its radiologists individually, must be willing to respond to this downward pressure – recognizing that there are very few efficiencies in the provision of teleradiology services that can serve to offset declining reimbursement.

3. As in all other segments of the cyber world, new and improved technology is constantly being brought to the marketplace, and while these developments may serve to improve accuracy and efficiency, they do not come cheap.

We have come to believe that EagleEye’s clearest path to continued success lies in a focus on teleradiology services – absent the appearance of a particularly attractive on-site opportunity – and in focusing on the expansion of services in geographic locations where we can offer the client a personalized relationship. Again and again, our clients have emphasized the importance of getting to know our providers: geographic proximity helps in this regard, but the increased use of diverse telecommunications interactions can augment this personal proximity as well.

As I have already said, but it bears emphasis, EagleEye’s strength lies in the professional skill and vigor of its physician readers. 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 – that when called upon, we truly “have the watch”.

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.