From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Ronald J. Milbank
It has been said that every company is a technology company, no matter what product or service it provides.
Leaders of hospitals, radiology departments and imaging services providers need to look at their businesses as IT companies that deliver radiology services.
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The implementation of technology to ensure quality, reduce regulatory administrative burdens, manage the education of employees and increase overall facility/employee efficiency is not only in your best interest, but is imperative to your survival. Topping this list of mission-critical tasks is ensuring your radiology services are as efficient as possible to offset continuing annual reductions in reimbursements from government and private providers for imaging services.
In any organization there are dozens of opportunities to invest in technology to improve overall performance and shorten the exam cycle. In radiology these include activities such as patient scheduling and sending reports to the referring physicians. But one of the highest returns on investment is making the radiologist as efficient as possible, which requires innovative workstation design.
Impressive productivity gains
Reno Diagnostic Centers has been in operation for 33 years. We had three of our most productive years during the last five years. We went from seeing 185 to 200 patients a day to between 280 and 300 patients a day with the addition of one modality. Making radiologists more productive with up-to-date technology and focusing on efficient scheduling for all modalities has generated a dramatic counterbalance to continuing drops in reimbursement.
A critical question is how many additional exams can be processed by using updated technology and procedures to reduce delays in radiologists’ workflow. Important factors that can boost overall profitability include minimizing the time radiologists spend: opening and closing exams; loading prior exams for comparison; taking their hands off the microphone, mouse, keyboard or auxiliary keypad device; reviewing and signing reports; physically adjusting their position to maintain a physical comfort level that reduces fatigue; and relocating between modality-centric reading workstations.
Redesigning the workstations at our facility improves productivity and reduces fatigue. It also eliminates delays of a few seconds to a dozen seconds or more that can occur every few minutes when the radiologist is reading a single exam. The new workstations allow radiologists to read 90 percent of exams without taking their hands off the mouse and the microphone. That creates substantive savings.