Radiology woes? The culprit may be cultural, not clinical

Inconsistency, a lack of specialization, poor communication and other telltale signs of an underperforming radiology department can affect an entire hospital. Perhaps most surprising is just how common these issues are. Roughly half of referring physicians say a lack of dialogue with radiologists results in “a barrier to providing the best care possible,” according to an American College of Radiology (ACR) survey.1

Another American College of Radiology study underscores the same point: Less than 2 percent of referring physicians consider radiologists’ communication “excessive,” and the overwhelming majority wished they called more.2

As hospitals today navigate seismic shifts like the transition to value-based care and increased patient volume, many providers now realize the important role radiology plays in creating overall efficiency and success. Without access to the right specialty and subspecialty radiologists, a new state-of-the-art cancer or ambulatory surgery center may never realize its full potential. Similarly, without consistent, around-the-clock imaging capabilities and subspecialty access, even the most advanced emergency room’s throughput will lag.

Delivering the best value and patient care starts with a radiology team’s leadership and commitment to a culture of service. All radiology partnerships should be led by an onsite medical director, who serves as chief liaison with the hospital and its medical staff. This physician should also provide leadership and accountability in the following areas:

  • Standards and policies: Meetings should be held quarterly to reassess whether current standards and policies are ensuring the highest quality of care, and that these guidelines are implemented across all sites and facilities.
  • Process improvement: The radiology team should work with the medical staff to improve existing service lines across departments and the entire hospital. Do turnaround times exceed existing benchmarks?
  • Communication: Radiologists should accommodate medical staff and their patients using reasonable, ethical methods, including phone calls, follow-ups and one-on-one meetings.
  • Quality and consistency: Does your hospital have around-the-clock coverage that includes subspecialty access? The right technology platform and operations center can enable medical staff to access the right providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing for the necessary coverage to ensure the highest quality of care.

Interested in learning more? Let’s talk. As one of the largest providers of radiology services in the Midwest, we deliver a fully integrated and unified solution that includes workflow, clinical processes and a broad spectrum of physician support services with industry-leading operational performance:

  • ED turnaround: 15.9 minutes
    • Benchmark: 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • CT turnaround: 3 hours or less
    • Benchmark: 4-8 hours
  • CT and labs interpreted/reported: 13 minutes
    • Benchmark: 45 minutes or less
  • Documentation compliance: 98.9%
    • Benchmark: 90-95%
  • Image peer review: 2-3%
    • Benchmark: 1-2%

We also have a proven commitment to culture and leadership. We have earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, as well as compliance with its national standards for healthcare quality and safety in ambulatory care organizations. Our quality committee oversees prospective and retrospective reviews, and each new physician must complete an internally developed compliance and training program.

1: American College of Radiology, “Case Study, Survey Says…”, October 2013

2: Auntminnie.com, “Do radiologists call too often? Yes and No,” June 2017

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