Improve Access to Improve Safety and Quality

December 1, 2011

CHICAGO - The radiology industry is buzzing with talk of analytics and data mining tools to help radiologists in decision making and utilization management. But even simple, organized reviews of your communications systems can help improve patient safety and quality as well.

CHICAGO - The radiology industry is buzzing with talk of analytics and data mining tools to help radiologists in decision making and utilization management. But even simple, organized reviews of your communications systems can help improve patient safety and quality as well.

“It’s about access,” Ramin Khorasani, MD, director of information management systems at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said at an RSNA session Wednesday, referring to one element of patient safety and quality requirements. Do you know the third available appointment for a head MRI at your practice? Do you know that data day-to-day or week-to-week?

Keith Hentel, MD, MS, vice chair for clinical operations in the Department of Radiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, had this advice for practices looking to improve quality: Watch your REAR (Rapidity, Ease, Availability, and Reliability). An easy place to start is the telephone, the way most patients and referring physicians access your practice, and easy communication channel to make more rapid and easier for them to use. Look at those metrics and you might be shocked at how well you’re responding to requests and making your practice available.

His department tracked the abandonment rate and was able to improve from around 10 percent to less than 4 percent. And how long does it take for someone to receive a response? Using the analytics, Hentel was able to improve that metric by optimizing staff.

Other ways to improve include optimizing the orders interface and physician portal, which you can set to require certain information by guiding the clinician for additional items. It can prevent missing demographic or insurance data, eliminates disappearing paper faxes, and cuts out human transcription errors, Hentel said.

His practice also tracks appointment availability, per modality and per modality by site, which allows them to then tweak staffing levels and hours of operation.

“When it comes to quality, think of it as patient-centered,” he said, “using these IT tools to improve the care of the patient.”