COVID-19's Impact on Your Workflow, Your Finances, and You

April 16, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer

Diagnostic Imaging's Week in Review, April 16, 2020

Welcome to Diagnostic Imaging’s Week in Review with continued updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m Whitney Palmer, senior editor. This week, not only have we seen more guidance for imaging around the virus, but details are continuing to emerge about how the outbreak is affecting your workflow, your finances, and you.

Even though you’re comfortable using chest X-rays to identify a wide variety of lung infections, new research out of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reveals you can’t confidently rule out COVID-19 infection if a scan comes back normal. In fact, in a population imaged in an urgent care center, more than half of the scans conducted on patients confirmed positive for the virus came back normal. These findings are important, the researchers said, because urgent care centers are most likely to see patients with milder – but still contagious – forms of the disease.

Lung ultrasound is still being used extensively in COVID-19 management. To help protect you and your patients, the World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology Safety Committee outlined five steps you can take when scanning patients. They recommended stringent social distancing, room preparation, equipment decontamination, personal protective equipment, and the use of single-use gel packets.

Alongside the sudden drop in your imaging volume due to the postponement of all elective and non-emergent services, you’ve also seen a significant drop in your revenue. A report published in Radiology indicates, based on anecdotal evidence seen in practices, that you could be facing up to a 70-percent loss in income, and that the lower imaging levels could stick around for another three-to-four months. But, they also offered suggestions for financial assistance programs and specific measures you can take in your practice to help bolster your bottom line.

Weathering the outbreak isn’t just about safe-guarding your practice, though. You also need to take care of yourself. Having more free time on your hands can feel disconcerting, but experts from the University of Michigan published advice on ways for you to navigate your new-found down time. In Academic Radiology, they discussed taking the time to pursue professional interests that have been sidelined, finding ways to help others, and even developing new hobbies. 

And, finally this week, Diagnostic Imaging spoke with Drs. Dushyant Sahani and Mahmud Mossa-Basha from the University of Washington about their department’s experience with COVID-19. Their department saw the first cases in the country in February, and they finally reached their peak on April 2. Both radiologists joined us to discuss steps their department has taken to safeguard their practice’s financial health and to prepare for working through the backlog of delayed studies. They also shared the lessons they learned. Here’s what they had to say.

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