Willing to lead?

As the AHRA annual meeting in Minneapolis came to a close on Wednesday, the radiology administrators in attendance returned home, hopefully having learned some valuable lessons about dose reduction, patient engagement or any of the other myriad topics discussed at the conference.

Even as the presenters discussed advances in scanner technology or novel methods of improving workflow, one of the consistent messages in the sessions I attended was the importance of leadership in and of itself.  

For example, optimizing the patient experience is key to marketing a practice, especially as reform efforts alter the business of radiology, according to Chad Calendine, MD, president of Premier Radiology in Nashville, Tenn. He suggested the specialty take a cue from Disney in building patient loyalty, but more than knowing what must be done to bolster quality, the biggest hurdle is simply mustering the effort to lead improvement efforts.

“That’s true in life,” he said. “Anybody that smokes knows they really shouldn’t be smoking, but going from knowing you shouldn’t be smoking to not smoking are very difficult things.”

A similar situation exists in dose management. A Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert issued in 2011 laid out recommendations to reduce the radiation risks associated with diagnostic imaging, but many of the suggestions are being unnecessarily neglected, said Gene Bernieri, MBA, diagnostic imaging administrator at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, N.Y. While some projects are complicated and long-term—such as the installation of exposure reduction software on equipment—other improvements are more immediately attainable. Making sure technologists wear appropriate protective gear or logging on to the Image Gently or Image Wisely websites are low-hanging fruit that require only leadership to harvest.

Other big news this week focused on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation for annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening for high-risk individuals between the ages of 50 and 80. The Grade B recommendation was made based on the results of several trials, including the highly publicized National Lung Screening Trial, which linked annual CT screening with a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer mortality.

In what ways are you or your practice taking the lead? We’d love to hear about any quality improvement projects at your organization.

-Evan Godt
Senior Staff Writer – Health Imaging