By Melissa Davis, MD, MBA
Leveraging Innovations in Healthcare
The field of radiology has always been at the forefront of technology. Our newest technological leap is leveraging the enhanced detection capabilities of machine learning. Yet, several innovations have also improved our workflows, both inside and outside the reading room, at the intersection of operations and quality.
Increasingly, operational and quality leaders are working together to leverage new systems and devices to improve areas like turn-around time, patient scheduling, follow-up tracking and room utilization — to name a few. As a clinician leader, it is more important than ever to understand how to evaluate, leverage and implement these new technologies.
We are often faced with the decision to implement a new technology … or not. One of the first things that I typically think about in this scenario is — what problem are we trying to solve?
- Is it a scheduling issue?
- Is it a supply issue?
- Would a simple process change work in this case?
- Do we already have access to a similar technology?
After defining the problem and maximizing our approaches to solving it with current technology and capabilities, it is time to look closer at the new technology, starting with identifying and obtaining buy-in from the many stakeholders.
- Who will be impacted?
- Who will pay for it?
- Who will benefit from it?
- Will it be utilized?
- Will it bring added value?
- Will the technology present any unintended consequences?
For most groups, the major stakeholders include the radiologist, referring provider, technologists, scheduling staff, and most importantly, the patients. Understanding the people involved is the most important aspect to implementing new technologies.
The second most important factor is understanding the processes that will take place around it. What are the current workflows? Will workflows have to completely change in order to implement the new technology? If so, the transition could be very difficult.
What will determine success or failure? Generally, leveraging key performance indicators are useful in determining success through pre- and post-evaluation methods.
Finally, the technology itself must be evaluated by asking the most important question — do we have the infrastructure to implement and support the technology after implementation? If the technology cannot be supported either internally or externally, it will soon become non-functional. Therefore, we must consider the cost, or return, to the practice.
Using this systematic and structured approach, practice leaders can implement new technologies, understanding that the most important aspect is how the innovations will benefit the people involved.