Radiologists juggle multiple tasks every day. From reading stack of studies, to communicating with colleagues and referring physicians, to monitoring the most current information affecting the specialty, radiologists try to fulfill many responsibilities daily while providing the highest level of patient care.
This is why Mina Makary, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, decided to take a step outside the reading room and explore his life-long desire to be an entrepreneur. By following that interest and dream, he designed an informatics solution, called RadApp, a by-radiologist, for-radiologist tool that brings combines resources radiologists need at their fingertips to manage their workflow and, potentially, side-step burnout.
In this first installment of Radiology-Plus, Makary discusses with Diagnostic Imaging how his long-term goal of making an impact on others’ lives came to fruition in an informatics tool.
DI: When did you first recognize that you have an entrepreneurial spirit, and when did you first start to explore that interest?
Makary: I’ve always had an interest in being an entrepreneur, but I never knew how to do it. I’ve always been creative, coming up with new projects, new research, new quality improvement ideas. When I’ve looked at successful entrepreneurs, I’m always impressed by how they can figure out a need and develop an innovative solution to fulfill it.
If you do something at a smaller level, you only affect your own life or a few others’. But, if you’re able to turn your idea into a broader market solution, then you can have a greater impact and create a tool or provide a service that helps many more. So, for me, that was the whole point. I started by looking at my own workflow, and I recognized different needs. The No.1 concern was how can we be more efficient because there’s a lot of demand on radiologists in terms of throughput and being able to work quickly through a larger volume of studies while maintaining quality. Radiologists must also be able to communicate critical findings with the care team in an efficient way to help deliver good patient outcomes. I recognized that if I could develop a solution that helped me with my own workflow, it could be valuable to others in my shoes.
DI: How did you start down the path to create RadApp – was there something in particular that led you to develop it?
Makary: We’re in the 21st Century, and everything is moving by leaps and bounds. That speed pushed me to look at the different parts of my job and analyze them. In radiology, it can sometimes take 15 minutes or more to reach someone to report a finding, discuss a patient, or get in touch with other healthcare team members. If you do that all day long, you’re not going to get any work done. If you’re spending time on email or the internet or other sources, trying to look up information, it eats up time. Networking in a large institution with multiple people who are often spread out can also be very difficult. These problems aren’t specific to any one institution, and I didn’t find any solution that addressed all these issues. Based on my experience, I knew I had a unique opportunity to do something about it.
DI: What features of the app are designed to assist in daily workflow?
Makary: I realized there were several gaps in the workflow of my life as a radiologist. One problem was communication – as radiologists, we communicate differently with different groups of healthcare providers. For example, in our emergency department, providers carry Cisco phones, so we frequently have to find the proper phone number to reach the correct provider. Floor teams carry pagers, and outside referring physicians can be reached through yet another completely different system.