Beating the Odds

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 - Mary C. Tierney
Mary C. Tierney

All eyes are focused on the economy. The topic is sucking all of the air out of the room. Our preoccupation dwells in the present and even more on when the rally will come. The crisis in healthcare is fierce, but we’ve weathered the likes before with DRA. Conquering that was good preparation for the present, so we work with what we have and remain positive. When times are bad, we find a way to succeed.

In a recession, people still get sick and we need to be ready with constant care—however, we know that competition has never been more intense. To do this, with static or even declining staff and less reimbursement, we look to better business solutions that enable greater efficiency and better productivity to accelerate patient care across the enterprise, not just in the department. We look for ways to shift technology from the capital to the operating budget. If we haven’t already, we look to creatively invest in systems and processes that tackle target metrics and communication and clinical coordination. Web-based remote access must stretch around the clock, across the enterprise and at the point of care, so resources are not stuck in silos.

To keep business coming in, we’re bettering the patient and referring physician experience with easier scheduling, shorter patient wait times, less time between initial imaging exam and diagnosis and tightening turn-around times to speed image-rich reports to referring physicians. On the back end, we deploy workflow and IT integration solutions to save physician, technologist and administrator time, while learning to uncover unrecognized revenue, select the right exam codes to get paid more quickly and make claims denial a priority—new financial rules and operating practices that are here to stay.

In our cover story, we examine the year’s top technologies and visit with seasoned users across the country to discover what they’ve tapped into and what they’ve gained in the process. The critical technologies they’ve identified come from the modality side—DR, breast MRI, CT and ultrasound—and the IT side with data storage, RIS, speech, cardiology PACS, advanced visualization and overall IT integration. Along the way, they’ve found better ways to diagnose disease with shorter scan times, reduced radiation dose, reduced ER to disposition time, reduced report turn-around time, changed patient care plans, closed the physician-physician communication loop—and saved a lot of money in the process.

Radiology is a passionate, dedicated, resilient bunch. When the parameters change, like they have now, we find a new and better path to treat patients well. We create new ways to do what seems like the impossible, increase quality as we decrease costs and take the best care of patients we can.