Whether it's government mandates, evolving technology, shifts in the workforce or the rise of cognitive capabilities, there is no shortage of change in the healthcare industry – and no sign of it slowing down. And while change is often a good thing, it can also bring new challenges and obstacles as those working in radiology have experienced, firsthand. With regard to workflow management in particular, a number of challenges are impeding the path to greater practice efficiency and physician satisfaction.
In recent years, technical advancements and dramatic improvements in imaging precision have led to exponential growth in medical imaging data. In 2015, roughly 800 million imaging exams were performed in the United States alone1
. Radiologists are under tremendous pressure to read more images, from more modalities – and in many cases review priors as well – creating an untenable "new normal" for this important specialty.
In addition to the ever-growing volume, the distribution of studies within practices can also erode physician satisfaction. Reading physicians aren't always assigned studies that best suit their expertise, and the uneven distribution of work is a contributing factor in the troubling trend of radiologist burnout
Unfortunately, as doctor discontent grows, patient retention suffers along with the quality of care – a reality that cannot be ignored as the industry moves toward value-based models.
Consolidation Breeds Confusion
Radiology has not been immune to the challenges of amalgamation. As health organizations merge, reading groups have grown in size and complexity, often operating in fragmented, non-standardized environments. Multiple imaging systems from various vendors must "work together" – or at least try – forcing physicians to juggle numerous reading systems, impacting their efficiency and focus.
Practices navigating a patchwork of systems are also faced with the challenge of accurately gathering data and analytics. Siloed information is a significant obstacle to gaining a complete picture of any healthcare organization and makes it difficult to identify workflow bottlenecks and opportunities to redistribute resources. While inefficiencies may be apparent without metrics, it is difficult to change what cannot be readily measured.
Creating a Workflow That Works
So what can be done to address these challenges and lay the foundation for a simplified, centralized, and comprehensive workflow? Smarter software can be a critical part of the solution, and knowing what to look for is the first step.
Merge's iConnect® Enterprise Workflow is a new single platform for reading workflow orchestration that simplifies, drives and analyzes enterprise-wide reading workflow activities. To learn more, visit www.merge.com/icew or click here to contact us directly.
- Seek out a solution that can centralize reading activities from various partners on a single platform – and ensure it's vendor neutral. Siloed information may be your reality now, but it isn't your destiny.
- Look for a platform that enables real-time analytics that can be gathered from multiple vendor reading systems. A more holistic view of the metrics you need will go a long way to improve your practice, boost physician satisfaction, and ultimately enhance patient care.
- Do your research and find a solution that facilitates a more equitable and efficient distribution of work. The right program will drive the flow of studies to the right reading physicians, eliminating the guess-work and inequalities that can undermine productivity.
1. According to Advisory Board and HPI , there was total of 257M imaging procedures in 2014 and Medicare part B represents ~35% of US Claims, leading to ~800M after rounding and accounting for 3 years of growth.↩