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7 Wastes in the Radiology Department


Improve efficiency by identifying these wastes in the radiology department.

In every imaging facility, whether in a hospital or an outpatient facility, there are specific tasks that may frustrate and slow you down. Ideally, a department wants to be as efficient as possible, and make it easier to care for patients, not just care for patients faster.

In addition, by 2020 there will be a significant overall payer mix shift which will affect a facility’s bottom line. Today's overall payer mix is about 55% Medicare/Medicaid and 45% commercial. By 2020, that mix is projected to be 70% Medicare/Medicaid and 30% commercial, this accounts for a 10%-15% reduction in reimbursement. As we are currently witnessing,   Medicare is bundling more payments and other Medicare initiatives could potentially put another 10%-15% of revenue at risk. To compensate for the projected revenue reduction, facilities will need to reduce cost 15%-25% by 2020.

In response to these challenges, it is important to identify wastes in the radiology department.

How does a facility start looking at ways to be more cost effective and efficient?  Start with the 7 wastes.

1. Transport: Movement of patients, material, equipment, or supplies.

Look at the following:

Moving samples, specimens, patients from one location to another

Moving empty wheelchairs, vital machines

Moving patients for tests and treatments

2. Inventory: Having more materials and supplies on hand than needed.

Do you have more than one month's supplies on hand?

3. Motion: Physical movement of the employee.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"44092","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7172343579939","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4909","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 212px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Ryan Jorgenson-Jorgo/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Look at the following:

Searching for patients, medications, or charts.

Reaching, bending, or lifting to get frequently used items.

Walking to several locations to find supplies or equipment.

4. Waiting: Idle time that occurs when you need to perform the next step.

Look at the following:

Waiting for a bed, room, or equipment to be available.

Waiting for patients, test results, medications, or charts.

Waiting for a transport,  support service, or delivery.

Waiting for a phone call, discharge, admission, or instruction.

5. Overprocessing: Additional effort that does not provide value.

Look at the following:

Anything with the prefix "re" (re-do and re-work), such as copying down the same information multiple times or moving a patient from  bed to bed to bed.

6. Overproduction: Producing more than is currently needed.

Look at the following:

Have an extra one just in case!

Bundle processes, to make it easier.

7. Defects: Work that does not meet standards set by the customer. 

Look at the following:

Patient receiving the wrong test, medication, or procedure.

Recording the wrong medication, allergy, dosage, or patient information.

Finding an error/missing information in an instruction or record.

Use these seven wastes to identify areas which will make it easier for you to care for patients, improve quality, and lower costs in your facilities.   


1. Reilly R. Trends in Healthcare and the Changing Role of Radiology. Radiology Management. July/August 2013.

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