Introducing Wellbeing Software’s Guide to Delivering Effective Radiology Collaboration
The latest Radiology review from the Care Quality Commission has been released, following up on concerns raised in 2017 about the length of time it was taking certain hospitals to report back on Radiology examinations. Such delays can have a dramatic knock-on effect in terms of the progression of both diagnosis and treatment; in short, they can seriously affect patient experience.
The CQC report has revealed that there is ‘huge variation’ nationally in terms of the time different NHS Trusts take to report back on radiology scans. Whilst this is in part due to staffing issues, with the average Radiology vacancy rate across all reporting Trusts standing at 14%, it is also important to consider the workflows and practices in place across those Trusts. Why do reporting times vary so much? What are the factors in a successful approach?
At the intersection
One issue is that Radiology is a growing service. As the CQC report underlines, there has been an 8% increase in the number of plain film x-rays carried out over the last five years, and a hefty increase of 44% and 43% of CT and MRI scans respectively over the same period. These departments are truly being worked harder than ever before, making reporting backlogs and process bottlenecks ever more likely.
Another issue is that a range of different key performance indicators (KPIs) are in place to monitor turnaround times. A small minority of Trusts have no KPIs in place at all, whilst those that vary as to whether they have general approach which applies to all types of diagnostic imaging, or more specific KPIs relating to the urgency or referral source. This underlines the huge range of different contexts, levels of urgency and referral types that Radiology departments deal with. It’s a complex picture.
Another aspect to this complexity is the fact that Radiology departments play a role in both the diagnosis and monitoring of such a huge range of conditions. As such, they need to share information with – and receive information back from – a massive array of other departments, services and specialists, often on an ongoing basis for particular patients. The information flows in and out of Radiology are very complex, and part of much broader data chains.
The answer, then, is to try and simplify this complexity. The multiple workflows in and out of Radiology departments need to be made as seamless and simple as possible. The multiple stakeholders that need to access Radiology scans and add information to them need to be working in the same language, using the same communication systems and working from the same images.
In short, the answer is to create more effective collaboration within Radiology departments, and between Radiology services and other organisations and individuals. Collaboration means both the sharing of information, and the interactive harnessing of that information to make decisions and undertake actions.
In practice, this means deploying not just Radiology Information Systems (RISs) and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), but also interoperability platforms to connect Radiology information with patient records, and support reporting between multiple sites. And, like any healthcare software deployment, going about this requires the careful juggling of a number of different priorities.
With this in mind, Wellbeing Software has created a detailed six-point guide to help Radiology departments wishing to adopt a more collaborative approach. The guide helps you to examine the different elements required for a more collaborative Radiology function, from workflow mapping to the mechanics of image sharing, and harnessing business intelligence.