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.
Here’s one example. Some radiology suites have equipment that lets the technologist call or text the radiologist from within the room and lets the radiologist see (and, if necessary, guide) the scan or ultrasound from any workstation. The patient is never left anxiously wondering what’s wrong after being told, “I need to go talk to the radiologist. I’ll be right back.”
Systems’ ability to exchange information also greatly affects radiology patient care. Say a patient has an echocardiogram and stress test done in the cardiology suite and is later told to schedule a cardiac MRI. While on the phone with radiology to schedule the appointment, the patient is asked about previous tests. If departments within the facility can’t cross-launch tests, that patient might be asked to bring copies of the tests to the cardiac MRI appointment. Worse, he or she might attempt to do so, only to be told it takes up to a week to get a CD with the results because the IT department must print it from the archives.
That’s a complicated example, but even simple communication issues can cause significant patient frustration. Unless allergy alerts are disseminated throughout the system, patients with latex or adhesive allergies find themselves explaining again and again that certain procedures must be adjusted for them. In a worst-case scenario, patients may find themselves buying costly steroid creams to alleviate painful conditions caused by seemingly innocent EKG leads.
The bottom line is that certain features within radiology systems make a world of difference to patients. When the patient is considered throughout the software development process, rather than as a last-minute validation when it’s costly to change things, it shines through in the patient experience.
In other words, when the development engineers stop and ask themselves how they’d want the system to work if it were their mothers undergoing a test, things go a whole lot better for every patient who enters that suite.