For professional backup, aviators have autopilot, writers have spellcheck. Some physicians receive alerts if an action has been overlooked or an important finding must be communicated quickly, such as a radiologist’s alert to contact the ED about a patient’s blood clot. These notifications can be very valuable, but too many can backfire and cause alert fatigue. Here are three reasons radiology management should seek balance when it comes to automated alerts.
1. Alerts Can Help Speed Up Radiologist Communication.
When we study dramatic failures like those that bring down power lines, we usually discover multiple issues. It’s the same with imaging — numerous forces have combined to decrease profitability, including saturated markets, a more complex patient population and declining reimbursement.
In her webinar, “2014 Imaging Market Outlook,” Sruti Nataraja of The Advisory Board Company takes a comprehensive look at all the factors contributing to imaging’s current state and observes the following:
- We’re getting diminishing returns from traditional growth
- The worst is yet to come with hospital reimbursement cuts
As radiology departments become more complex, and the focus shifts to quality and efficiency, imaging workflows and data collection methods become significantly more complicated and sophisticated. That includes how radiologists facilitate patient care in the imaging environment; communicate and collaborate with other care providers; document and track radiology/physician interactions; and how radiology systems integrate and share data with other systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs). Imaging workflow management, now more than ever, needs to be automated, and data needs to be readily available in the imaging application tool set.
For emergency department managers, complaints are a serious and complex issue. They are worrisome due to concerns of possible litigation – emergency medicine is one of the top 10 specialties facing a higher number of lawsuits – and because dissatisfied patients are at odds with goals to improve patient satisfaction and care.
At the same time, ED staff is working in an extremely challenging environment. Physicians must determine whether a patient is truly in pain or feigning it to get, for example, a Percocet prescription. Staff may have to tend to another patient whose partner is becoming belligerent and appears under the influence. Nevertheless, amidst the chaos that can be an ED, there are helpful strategies for handling patient complaints – whether they’re coming from patients or the patients’ loved ones.
Sometimes, progress is as simple as viewing things from a different angle. For instance, when we consider radiology tests or procedures, we think of technologists and radiologists. What’s the best equipment for them, how can we make them more efficient, and how can we decrease the time they spend waiting for images?
But take that view and turn it 180 degrees to the patient, and everything changes. Success is no longer about departmental workflow; it’s about lowering the patient’s anxiety and frustration level to help improve radiology patient care.