Improving your omni

May 12, 2017

Technology can help with your omnipresence -- if you let it.

Another tax season come and gone. Well, mostly. Independent-contractor types in the readership will know the fun doesn’t end in mid-April, as the second “quarterly” tax payment, in June, is due just 2 months after the first. In other words, paying ¼ when you only accrued 1/6 can be a bit tricky if you’re operating with tight margins. Fortunately, my teleradiology gig has historically provided plenty of opportunities to work extra hours, so my free time has been able to act as a financial pressure-release valve. Not everyone has this luxury; some salaried rads wind up doing extra hours “for the good of the practice” without seeing an extra dime for themselves. (Then again, if you have a gig as an employee-radiologist, you don’t have to do the quarterly-tax thing.) There are limitations to just how much one can do, of course. Only so many wakeful hours in a day, can only be in one place at a time, only so much an individual can (sanely) work, and only so much work to be done. We’re neither omniscient, omnipotent, nor omnipresent. But, we’re more omni than we used to be. The technology that makes teleradiology possible makes us able to get at a hecuva lot more imaging-volume than back when we were playing with films and alternators. As long as the internet connection cooperates, a rad can be virtually-present and productive in any number of imaging facilities. This has increased the availability of work to be done by a rad, so it only makes sense that innovations would also have focused on enabling the rad to get more of that work done. Upping the omni of our potency, as it were. Sono techs filling out worksheets with pertinent measurements, for instance…and, sooner or later, dictation software that automatically populates reports with those measurements. Support-staff taking over tasks that don’t require a Board-certified radiologist, like tracking down a referring clinician or retrieving prior studies. I won’t go into some of the other schemes I’ve seen for further boosting rad-productivity…suffice to say there is efficiency, and, then, there’s unscrupulous corner-cutting. Organization of responsibilities isn’t just limited to shunting non-doctorly duties from rads to other staff; there’s more than a bit of rad-to-rad redistribution, also. Some more savory than others. For instance, maximizing the amount of subspecialty-reads (good for subspecialist productivity and referrer satisfaction, not to mention patient care), as opposed to a senior partner siphoning a chunk off the productivity off his associates to pad his personal bottom-line. There’s a recurring phenomenon, not at all exclusive to our field, of folks determining that no meaningful further progress can be made. As the possibly-apocryphal quote goes, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Maybe, someday, that will indeed be the case. In the meantime, embracing such sentiment ensures your omni will plateau at its current level, whereas others’ probably won’t.