Radiologists Need to Lead Change

December 28, 2015

CHICAGO-Radiologists need to lead change or risk damaging the field, according to experts at RSNA 2015.

Radiology is often considered to be an unseen specialty with providers that work in the dark spots of a hospital or department. But, as its providers touch an increasing number of patients, the industry is being called upon more often to be change leaders.

And, according to Frank Lexa, MD, MBA, radiology residency director for Drexel University College of Medicine, at RSNA 2015, this is a responsibility that radiologists should relish, pursue, and take seriously.

“You should be leading change because if you let someone make changes who doesn’t understand what we do, it will be damaging to our industry and to your patients,” Lexa said. “You either have to lead using digital tools or the digital tools will take it away from you.”

If you’ve been asked to take on a change leadership role, concentrate first on identifying your allies and your potential opponents, he said. Realize you can’t change everything at once. Pick one project in one location, and demonstrate its value before spreading any alterations elsewhere.

Being an effective change leader, he said, requires following a five-phase plan: purpose, thinking, learning, engagement, and feedback.

Purpose: Have a clear, specific, quantifiable aim. Determine what you need, and make smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely goals. For example, opt to work toward faster turnaround times.

Thinking: Think proactively, not reactively or reflexively, he said. Think about who will be there to help you in pursuits. With turnaround times, identify the reasons why turnaround times are slow, pull together a team of individuals involved with turnaround times, including emergency department personnel, transport staff, nurse practitioners, and technologists. Figure out how to quantify results and how to implement the project.

Learning: When you implement changes, he said, pay close attention to the expected results. They can make a quick and significant impact on how your team members and other groups act. A sudden drop in turnaround times could entice an emergency department to broaden the parameters of which images must be read immediately simply so they can push for getting results faster, Lexa said.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"44525","attributes":{"alt":"Frank Lexa, MD, MBA","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_2869998495604","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4995","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: 233px; width: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Frank Lexa, MD, MBA","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Engagement: Constrain your ideas to what is achievable, he said. Assemble a group that wants to work together for the common goal, and then assign roles and tasks. A significant part of change projects, he said, is collaborative effort.

Feedback: Once your project is complete, do an action analysis. Find out if the people you selected were helpful. Did they promise to help, but then were ineffective? What went well in the process? What went wrong? What could be improved upon?

Best Practice: Be sure to start with a demonstration project – work on only one service line at one site at a time. Work out all details and any stumbling blocks on a single site before you spread the efforts, he said. Work on your plan and always be ready to adjust it.

“Do your best, but don’t be disappointed if results are less than perfect,” he said. “Good change means things are getting better, and they’re worth doing.”