Article

Standardization Improves Quality of Life for the Radiology Team

The start of each day in a radiology department presents a wealth of opportunities to help patients through difficult times in their lives. The radiology team should feel good about that. The span of an average workday, however, is long and demanding. While challenges and stressors are unique to various roles, there is a solution to improve quality of life – standardization through protocol management and software subscription services.

Standardization as a component of job satisfaction

A given healthcare facility may have multiple pieces of imaging equipment. Some organizations have various locations serving vastly different demographics. Hardware costs and longevity generally render it impractical to have the "latest" equipment at each site. Perpetual software licensing presents a similar dilemma.

Staff may rotate among physical locations or perform services for several. Divergent imaging protocols and workflows present a range of headaches for technologists, radiologists, and administrators that in due course impact delivery of quality patient care. Implementing standardized protocols and utilizing the same software platforms across the organization can be a significant factor in smoothing issues that detract from job satisfaction.

Home on time

Imagine what it would be like if your employer forced you to switch the type of computer you worked on each day. Day one, you use your PC. On day two, they hand you an Apple laptop. The following day, you must work on a tablet with an external keyboard. 

The constant switching of technology will likely lead to frustration and slow down your ability to do work. This hypothetical scenario is a reality for those who work in radiology departments without standardization. 

Lack of consistency in their tasks is a drain on the efficiency of the department and can increase the risk of errors. Technologists understand the influence of their work on patient outcomes, so this can be stressful on an emotional level.

With the prevalence of disease and greater awareness of the diagnostic and interventional importance of imaging, the number of patients seen and the number of exams are increasing. In Curbing the Urge to Image, The American Journal of Medicine reported: "one major contributor to health care expenditure is diagnostic imaging."1 The article goes on to say, “In the early decades of modern medicine, physicians depended on the history, physical examination, clinical judgment, and a limited battery of tests to confirm a diagnosis. Since then, the availability of laboratory and imaging tests has grown exponentially.”1 This trend is beyond the control of the technologist, placing greater emphasis on efficiency.

In a recent interview, Ken Denison, Global Director of Marketing for Digital, MICT at GE Healthcare described another issue, in the form of delays caused by nonstandard systems – patient perception when the technologist is consumed with “busy work” that does not add obvious value to the patient experience. “Technologists often tell us that it seems more and more like their job is to run a machine instead of to care for the patient.”2

Many of these frustrations can be eliminated with standardized protocols and software, allowing the technologist to focus attention on the patient. Simply put, it can help the technologist wrap up work more efficiently and make it home on time.

Cornering the elusive clinical answer

What happens when the radiologist encounters exams that look unusual? That can happen when images coming from various sites are not of similar quality due to disparities in clinical capabilities. According to Denison, that pushes the radiologist to an uncomfortable decision point, “Is what I see is what I'm seeing real? Or is that an artifact of the difference between the two machines the scans were done on?”2

Having the same (and latest) clinical capabilities and standard protocols at all sites help to ensure consistent image quality, which expedites the radiologist’s interpretation.

That level of standardization addresses a strong emotional need for the radiologist. Denison reports that he has observed radiologists describing their “best day” as being able to answer a question for a clinical colleague, that had stumped everyone else; to discover what is going on with this patient when no one else could.2

Providing the capability to be that clinical hero can be important in retaining qualified and experienced radiologists, valuable resources to the team and to the organization.

Happy staff

In late 2018, DailyPay reported record-high turnover rates in the healthcare industry, with the average hospital replacing 85.2% of its workforce since 2013. The article cites a turnover rate for radiology technologists at 10.8%. It also names radiologist as one of the most difficult positions to fill, saying, "The longer a job goes unfilled, the more it impacts a hospital's bottom line."3

That is an expected financial concern to hospital administrators, along with the deterioration of margin created by operational inefficiencies.

You might, however, find the administrator’s emotional motivation a bit unexpected. Denison said the primary goal of administrators is to make their staff and peers happy.2 In the case of the radiology team, that means giving them the “latest and greatest” clinical capabilities.

Pride in who they work for, their ability to deliver value to the patient, and their standing among colleagues is a significant job satisfaction issue for technologists and radiologists. Administrators can foster it with standardized protocol management and subscription services that keep each site operating smoothly.

Author and publishing guru Charbel Tadros said, “A highly paid, highly motivated employee who is not allowed to work with his full potential is like a Ferrari which is not allowed out of the garage.”4 Standardization can be a quality of life enhancement that helps your radiology team reach peak RPMs.

References:

  1. Curbing the Urge to Image. The American Journal of Medicine. https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(16)30680-5/fulltext August 30, 2019.
  2. Interview with Ken Denison, Global Director of Marketing for Digital, MICT. GE Healthcare. August 30, 2019.
  3. Healthcare Turnover Rates in 2018. DailyPay. https://business.dailypay.com/blog/employee-turnover-rates-in-the-healthcare-industry August 30, 2019.
  4. Job Satisfaction Quotes. GoodReads. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/job-satisfaction August 30, 2019.