Marc Kerachsky: Can you expand upon the idea of developing emotional intelligence between techs and radiologists?
Dr. Jeffrey Miller, radiologist: When groups of people who have different personalities, backgrounds and life experiences come together around a shared goal or activity, the extent to which these groups can understand the strengths, weaknesses and preferences of each other can profoundly influence their degree of collective success. This definitely applies to techs and radiologists who are often very focused on their individual jobs and roles.
Emotional intelligence, basically putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, can occur when there is an openness to see beyond one’s own vantage point in patient care encounters. When a radiologist recognizes that a tech may be upset because they were just dealing with a very sick patient or when a tech realizes that a radiologist is abrupt with them on the phone because they are being bombarded by a succession of phone calls and interruptions, emotional intelligence can lead to increased resilience for both individuals so that the care of the patient is not adversely effected.
Marc Kerachsky: How does valuing each other’s unique contributions help you weather the inevitable challenges and changes in healthcare and work better as a team?
Dr. Jeffrey Miller, radiologist: The answer to this question is simple even though the implementation of it is probably one of the most challenging aspects of all complex work environments, not just healthcare. One of the ways to get people to be more engaged is to create conditions in which they feel like their work is valuable and is leading towards some goal that is important to them. This is the best way to build effective teams.
In radiology, it is often the radiologists themselves that get a lot of the credit for what happens in their departments. A much better situation would be for all of the members of the team, the technical staff, the administrative staff and the clerical and other support staff, in addition to the radiologists, to feel valued and recognized for their unique and important roles which all, ultimately, are imperative to the care for patients who pass through our department. When this point is kept in mind, all decisions and actions can just boil down to simply, “what is best for the patient.” When the patient is associated with the ultimate outcome, the rest will fall into place.
Marc Kerachsky: Let’s talk about how the strength of the tech-rad bond can help drive costs down and increase efficiency. From your perspective, how can it translate into higher level operational benefits for hospitals or health systems?
Amber Pokorney, technologist: That’s easy. When I have a good relationship with a radiologist and know what they want and expect from the imaging that they will be interpreting, I don’t have to keep bugging them about it or ask for clarification, which is not a very efficient way of doing things. Also, if I have that level of comfort, I am more likely to suggest a better way of doing something based on an observation or experience that may be unique to my vantage point.
Dr. Jeffrey Miller, radiologist: Unfortunately, health care in this country is a limited resource. The lack of optimal cost efficiency in healthcare continues to impact not only the entities at the higher levels such as the federal and state governments, health systems and hospitals, but also the patients themselves. We have to consider cost in everything we do now, because if we don’t keep costs down, not only will these higher entities run budget deficits, but patients will continue to lose out on the access to health care that they need because it is simply too expensive.
However, as I said before, we are driven by adding value not just reducing costs - there needs to be that connection to a higher purpose. From an organizational and systems view of this, the only way you can get close to a 360-degree innovation viewpoint of health care processes is to maximize the number of individuals who are contributing to process improvement and adding value to the patient journey from their unique role. In the end, this leads to the greatest value and cost efficiency scale. We all want high-quality, cost-effective healthcare but we must work together to achieve it.