Radiologists need to continue providing value to be in the starting line-up of the health care team. The starting line-up has the most say in what happens, and that’s where we want to be. Our role needs be more than just reading films. If it is not, we risk being benched, which means our opinions are marginalized. We need to be proactive, not reactive in the whole radiology process. If we are at the end of the line, just reading the film and making a report, we’ll quickly lose our ability to affect the way things are done.
Much of the time, when techs or administration hear from us, it is because of something we find that is “wrong.” But how many times do we help to change the process? One of the best ways to do that is to insert yourself directly into the system with regard to imaging decisions.
What do I mean? A good example that I’ve seen recently is by helping decide what patients get scanned where. I hear other radiologists complain all the time that a scan was of poor quality. Often that is because a complex or difficult exam was done on a system not ideal for that test. Should we expect the schedulers to know where studies should be done? Administration, scheduling staff and techs often aren’t aware of this. Even if we’ve given some direction as to what is to be done where, there are often conflicts due to travel or timing.
You can prove your value and provide optimal patient service, by identifying what studies should be done where. Don’t refuse the studies or criticize; rather make the system proactive and get the studies scheduled in the right place.
There’s a system you can use for this that matches exam codes to a list of available equipment in descending order of preference. Create a spreadsheet for each piece of equipment in your technical partners system. List the equipment in one column and the exam codes as the headers of the remaining columns. Then give the equipment a rating for that exam (like 1 for preferred; 2 for acceptable; 3 for not acceptable). By providing a spreadsheet for your technical centers as to what studies should be done where, you’ll get patients on the right and best equipment. You’ll improve quality, streamline scheduling and make yourself more valuable and less aggravated.
Reading studies done on the right equipment make them easier too, so that will save you time. It will reduce call backs, which the centers can track to show the improvement. And the providers will get better images and reports with fewer qualifications. The whole team will be more satisfied, and your role on the starting team will be reinforced.