From the May 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Stefanie Manack and Judy Zakutny
With the ever-changing imaging environment and the move to patient consumerism you must ask yourself: Are you providing true patient-centered care in your imaging department? But what exactly is patient-centered care in imaging?
Patient-centered care involves much more than a patient’s experience. In the imaging space, patient experience/expectations, patient access, and operations all play a crucial role under the larger umbrella of patient-centered care. Think of it as a three-phase approach throughout the patient’s imaging journey — before the exam, at the exam, and after the exam. Each of these phases involves many facets that must be taken into consideration to provide truly patient-centered care.
Before the exam
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A patient’s first impression of your department begins with scheduling their imaging exam. Difficulty reaching the scheduling department or waiting on hold to make an appointment are significant sources of patient dissatisfaction.
Ensuring schedulers have the tools and training necessary to navigate the complexities of scheduling imaging exams is imperative. It’s much more complex than simply finding an open appointment. The interaction between the scheduler and the patient can include exchange of such information as financial expectations, exam-specific prep instructions, arrival time versus appointment time, modality screening procedures (such as MR safety sheets), medication instructions, and management of multiple same-day procedures. The goal is to ensure that patient expectations are clearly set; they have accurate information with which to prepare for the exam, and they know when and where to arrive, so their exam can be performed without delay. Empowering patients with the information they need and want is a critical part of setting expectations.
All these things can shape the patient’s perception of your imaging department before they even arrive.
At the exam
The patient’s exam experience starts before they arrive in the department. Patients expect easy parking, accommodations for inclement weather, and adequate signage clearly directing them to the imaging department. Having these pieces in place may go unnoticed, but not having them will negatively impact the patient’s experience before they even get to the department.