Philips: Ultimately, healthcare providers must remain focused on the patient and quality of care amidst the operational and financial challenges of healthcare. Do you as radiology administrators have ownership of the quality of the patient experience in imaging for your organization?
Paula Gonyea, UVMC: We have always been responsible for the patient experience, but many of the aspects of that experience are out of our control. For example, things like wayfinding or wait times – things that happen before they even get to the imaging department – are still included in the patient satisfaction surveys. There’s a lot of pressure on us to improve the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores because it affects reimbursement. Consequently, we have a huge focus on creating a more patient-centered imaging experience by improving the things we can control such as patient preparation and communication, as well as comfort during the exam. Quality of care also includes providing the best imaging equipment to facilitate first-time-right scans to reduce the need for rescans and increase patient safety by reducing dose or the need for sedation. In this context, we are certainly looking at reliability of imaging equipment and being able to deliver more confident diagnoses as a key priority.
Perry Kirwan, Banner Health: There is constant demand to improve patient satisfaction and the patient experience overall. We know many factors contribute to the patient experience, but the greater challenge is identifying the best way to measure it. We have many patient experience improvements, various tools and metrics, NPS scores, surveys, etc. – and they all provide value. But, the real question is, what is the sweet spot? We need to think wider about the problem and be expansive enough in our thinking in each area of the imaging value chain to really make a difference in patient experience in a more significant way. This means gathering insights on patients and looking at the issues from a more consumer-driven view that is more typical of B2C (business-to-consumer) organizations.
Philips: A key piece of today’s healthcare economics mandate is improving efficiency to enable greater patient volumes. What are you doing to overcome increasing demands on your departments without commensurate increases in staff?
Paula Gonyea, UVMC: Volume and backlogs are one of our key challenges. We’ve seen an uptick in oncology as cancer rates are increasing, so our CT scanners are always in high demand. We’re putting in more second shifts to address the need from a staffing standpoint to reduce stress and burnout. Increasingly, my job as a radiology administer includes lots of staffing issues and people management. We also need to ensure uptime, reliability and service support of imaging equipment so that we don’t incur added delays or backlogs. So, we’re focused on improving staffing, workflow and scan efficiency. Reducing the need for rescans with a first-time-right image is an important element of driving operational efficiency as well.
Mark Thompson, Premier Health: I would say patient no-shows can have a big impact on workflow productivity and backlogs. When patients don’t show up for an exam it can create a domino effect of issues including lost revenue for the exam, lost productivity at a staffing level and lost time for patients that are waiting for those appointment slots.
Philips: Radiology leaders are looking for ways to use data to drive better imaging, operations and business decisions and connect data and technology so everyone in the radiology department can do their job better. How are you dealing with unstandardized and unstructured workflows that can lead to inefficiencies?
Mark Thompson, Premier Health: One of the frequent obstacles I see is the connecting of information or the insight and data gathering effort across third-party systems. Getting information out of one system and into another shouldn’t be so hard. We need to come up with better ways to integrate and connect information across various tools, electronic medical records (EMRs) and systems.
Perry Kirwan, Banner Health: I would agree that there’s a broader issue in healthcare around integration and interaction between tools and electronic medical records from third parties that hamper workflow. We shouldn’t have to maintain duplicate systems. There should be a single source of truth. We need to find a better way to work within it; there needs to be a better EMR eco-structure. But, it’s not just getting the information out of systems: the differentiation lies in what you can do with the information you capture.