The Evolution of Quality Workflows: How to Embed Quality in Your Organization’s DNA

2016-08-26
 

Clinician using automated radiology workflowAdopting a mindset of continuous improvement in quality and interpretation workflows is necessary shift for radiology to achieve a successful shift to value based care. But this change and the transformation of best practices from theory to reality is not always easy to accomplish. A good quality system is about consistency, visibility and education and about ongoing improvement.

Consistency

When a quality system is manual or paper based, it’s nearly impossible to make it consistent and standard and therefore quality cannot become part of the organizational DNA. In order to keep a constant focus on quality, the workflows need to be automated so that they are a regular part of a department’s daily operations. When the quality workflows and alerts for radiologists and technologists are automated and embedded in their “imaging cockpit”, it becomes an integral part of their clinical operations and not an afterthought. A consistent approach can also be encouraged when reviews are timely. If studies are reviewed quickly, any discrepancies that may have clinical impact are corrected quickly, which can contribute to better patient outcomes. Both consistency and timeliness can be greatly improved when radiology departments move to automated workflow management of their quality workflows.

Visibility

Continuous improvement is not possible if baseline metrics are not defined and measured. Quality systems need the ability to extract the data that resides in them and provide it in the form of reports or dashboard that administrators and managing can use to track actual versus target performance goals and  adjust or refine radiology workflows accordingly. With a system to measure data, it’s easy to see the impact – either positive or negative – of any changes that are put in place, and with an automated rules-based system, it’s easy to make changes and implement them quickly.

Education

A truly mature quality system fosters ongoing learning and educational culture rather than one that is punitive.

A survey published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology on Attitudes and Perceptions Regarding the Incorporation of a Departmental Peer Review System surveyed 39 radiologists on staff at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto to assess radiologists’ perception of peer review.  The results were very clear.

While 86% of respondents agreed peer review improves professional care and aids in their development, an overwhelming 92% of respondents said it should be done anonymously. A completely anonymous workflow can help create a culture of learning where physicians can provide real opinions without concern for reprisal or blame. This type of workflow requires a sophisticated, automated system that can be adapted for each facility’s needs. If feedback can be delivered in a way that protects the identity of both the original reporting radiologist and the reviewing radiologist, the comments are certain to be fair, and can contribute to a culture that is focused on learning, education and continuous improvement.

Workflow orchestration solutions facilitate compliance, standardization and give administrators control and visibility. They help move radiology departments from theoretical industry defined best practices to a reality where integrated quality systems are an embedded part of clinical operations. To find out more about how rules-based systems are already helping customers, read our post about several national peer review programs that are already in place, and if you want to see the system in action, book a demonstration at the American Society of Head and Neck Radiology or at RSNA.

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