How to Ensure the Success of the New Radiology Hire

December 13, 2011

Starting a new member of a practice on a good foot requires planning, organization and preparation. A good practice will not put a new employee behind the eight ball by being disorganized. Worse yet, a good practice will not risk a new radiologist being unprepared for her duties, being distracted by administrative work, or not being credentialed when it's time to start. How do we avoid this? By creating a list of what needs to be done in advance and following through with it.

It's exciting to have a new radiologist join your practice. And it is great to be starting a new position. It’s a chance for both to make a first impression. But it can be disheartening for both parties if the first days are disorganized. 

Starting a new member of a practice on a good foot requires planning, organization and preparation. There is a ton to keep track of and to learn. A good practice will not put a new employee behind the eight ball by being disorganized. Worse yet, a good practice will not risk a new radiologist being unprepared for her duties, being distracted by administrative work, or not being credentialed when it's time to start.

How do we avoid this? By creating a list of what needs to be done in advance and following through with it. In addition, providing information about what is expected will avoid frustration over not fulfilling expectations.

So here’s what's needed:

To start:

- Designate an administrator to manage the process. This needs to include IT, credentialing, and marketing. Make that person responsible for the completion of the tasks. Have her keep a form, check and date it and require it to be turned in weekly to the practice administrator and shard with the newly hired radiologist.

- If the new radiologist will be interpreting for several locations, designate a manager at each site as a contact person and tell the new radiologist who these designees are.

Three months before arrival:

- Verify the radiologist has signed her contract. You don't want to waste resources until the hire is final.

- Verify the start date with the new radiologist and practice. Don't let the practice or its administration set an unrealistic start time or be surprised.

- Send credentialing documents for all sites to the radiologist and verify completion not less than 60 days before start.

One month before arrival:

- Create a schedule for first day and first week. Share this with techs and IT staff and discuss with radiology leadership. Is there a need to limit/duplicate staffing and back-up for first week of work? The practice and new hire should consider whether to have an initial orientation day(s) for IT or carve out time on initial days. Do not expect the new hire to fill a full position the first day, week or even month. Be a little overstaffed during that time and tell the rest of the staff that is going to happen.

- Request that the IT department(s) create access credentials for each computer system. Give them a date for completion that is one week ahead of schedule as there are often unforeseen problems. Are there systems that require the new user to be at the site to set up? Will they need help? Who is the IT designee? How will they be reached on the first day or day of orientation?

- Communicate with transcription services regarding new hire and any special needs.

- Notify the marketing manager about the new radiologist, and schedule a phone or in-person meeting to discuss his/her areas of expertise, the locations for which she is interpreting, and starting date.

- Ask the marketing manager and radiologist to develop a marketing flyer about the new radiologist.

- Order business cards.

- Verify with business manager if there will be a temporary period for payer credentialing and, if so, how claims will be filed during the transition or temporary period.

- Identify and assign a senior radiologist mentor for the new radiologist, and arrange initial meeting/discussion between them.

- If there is a need for remote or home reading or signing check with IT and the new hire on compatibility or need for system; Order as needed.

- Arrange for security access and parking at all sites.

- Verify credentialing completion.

Seven business days before arrival:

- Notify all techs and staff of the name of the new radiologist, the starting date, and if applicable, the ending date. Provide the radiologist with names of all staff and techs.

- Provide a list of all site phone numbers and contacts, as well as IT system support numbers.

- Provide a list of passwords and websites for access to health records and images.

- Verify with IT at all sites that there is activation of credentials for computer systems.

- Arrange a meeting for the radiologist and transcription manager to discuss specific templates or “normals” that she may want to use. Using a new system is tricky, but using your old standards makes it easier.

- Distribute flyer or communication regarding new hire to referring offices and physicians.

- Provide the radiologist with policy manual, preferably online, for review. Ensure she knows how to access it. New staff is often asked questions about policies with which they are not familiar. Make it easy to find those policies.

- Make sure your policies include expectations about on-site and after hours coverage, absences and volume.

First day:

- Provide a tour of the site(s), and introduce the new radiologist to all technologists and staff.

- Train the radiologist to use the phone system, make calls, answer calls, transfer calls, and overhead page/forward. Verify the radiologist has phone extensions, the business and operations manager’s contact information, colleagues’ numbers, and IT emergency numbers.

Your individual practice may have other issues to address. Be proactive and add them to your checklist. Update it often and circulate it for comment. You only get one chance at a good start.