Feature article

Staffing for X-Ray: The Skills, Technology, and Data You Need to Deliver Great Care

In a world where technology and data — as well as skills — have become key aspects in the imaging practice, many radiologists have found that their hiring needs have changed dramatically. That’s because by and large, the job roles of radiologists and X-ray technologists have evolved significantly as automation tools, algorithmic learning, and even artificial intelligence (AI) play an increasingly substantial part in everyday imaging practice. 

To keep up with the avalanche of data that comes with these advancements in technology, practice managers must change how they recruit, train, and educate staff to deliver exceptional X-ray care going into the future. Radiology practices should look for a mix of essential skills in regards to technology and data among its workforce.1 

Willingness to work with the data

In June 2017, The Medical Futurist addressed the common “AI-will-replace-radiologists” fear; radiologists who could quickly adapt to new technology and not only learn how to use it — but also learn how its merits and capabilities could complement their jobs — would fare much better than those who fought against high-tech imaging adoption.2

That ideology also translates to the data that comes with advanced imaging modalities. Ninety percent of all healthcare data at hospitals comes directly from medical imaging, and there is not enough manpower to manually sort through that amount of information, but by showing a willingness and enthusiasm to work with the technologies that can organize data in ways that humans can’t, X-ray technologists can not only make their own jobs easier, but also speed up operations and workflow office-wide.3

Adoption of tools to improve “reject rates”

Up to one in four images can’t actually be used for diagnosis because of bad image quality or patient positioning— and that can pose a big problem for operational efficiency through rescheduling and rescanning and patient satisfaction.

New technologies like GE Healthcare’s X-ray Quality Application can help practices identify their biggest drivers of reject rates. At the University of Washington, GE Healthcare’s tool saved up to seven hours of time that were previously spent by manually finding reject sources. Now that the data is automated, technologists have a real-time flow of feedback to help them perform better and keep reject rates down.

“Using the X-ray Quality Application, we were able to identify chest and knee X-ray exams as having elevated reject rates, with knee X-ray exams being 13 percent of all the reject images from the department mostly due to patient positioning or a patient moving during the exam,” said Dolores Dimitropoulos, Manager of Medical Imaging at Humber River Hospital, another institution that uses the platform.5

Humility to improve and training to make it happen

After getting results on their reject rate sources, the Humber team identified technologists with the highest reject rates and designed comprehensive training programs suited specifically for them. When staff show a willingness to recognize their improvement needs and then work on them, reject rates decrease, patient satisfaction improves, and practice can run more smoothly as a whole.5

Practices can do that with a constant eye for professional development and training programs tailored specifically to what employees need and want.1,5,6 Based on each practice and staff member’s needs, that might include the following individual or manager-assisted trainings:

  • Image and protocol review: Hands-on equipment training to review processing protocols, pairing specific protocols with specific exams, and radiation safety.6
  • Positioning and image quality: Focused trainings around proper positioning and improving image quality.3
  • Educational preparation: Review research literature and attend conferences, continuing medical education courses, or other learning events.6
  • Equipment tutorials: Attendance at vendor-led tutorials and trainings when installing or upgrading equipment.

The future of imaging is already here—and though technologies make it easier, people make it possible. After all, radiologists need a diverse, skilled team with a keen eye for technology and data who improve every day. And having those teams well-equipped and well-trained can improve patient satisfaction and the bottom line—and that makes all the difference.

 References:

  1. Job Market Looks Good for Radiologists. DiagnosticImaging.comhttp://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/job-market-looks-good-radiologists. Accessed Aug. 16, 2018.
  2. The Future of Radiology and Artificial Intelligence. The Medical Futurist. https://medicalfuturist.com/the-future-of-radiology-and-ai. Accessed Aug. 12, 2018.
  3. Beyond Imaging: the paradox of AI and medical imaging innovation. GE Healthcare. http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com/beyond-imaging-ai-imaging-innovation/. Accessed Aug. 12, 2018.
  4. Unified Database for Rejected Image Analysis Across Multiple Vendors in Radiography. Journal of the American College of Radiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27663061. Accessed Aug. 12, 2018.
  5. X-Ray marks the spot: Reinventing the world’s oldest imaging scanner. http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com/x-ray-marks-the-spot-reinventing-the-worlds-oldest-imaging-scanner-himss18/. Accessed Aug. 12, 2018.
  6. Best Practices in Digital Radiography. American Society of Radiologic Technologists. https://www.asrt.org/docs/default-source/publications/whitepapers/asrt12_bstpracdigradwhp_final.pdf. Accessed Aug. 23, 2018.