Service Excellence for Radiologists

December 9, 2015

CHICAGO-Experts advised at RSNA 2015 how service excellence can be achieved in radiology.

Service excellence (SE) in the radiology department is an attainable and measurable culture shift, not only for hospital staff members, but for the radiologists in private practice groups and new radiologists entering the field, according to experts at RSNA 2015.

A SE culture is defined as the ability of the provider to consistently meet and manage patient expectations, said Ella Kazerooni, MD, professor of radiology, associate chair for clinical affairs, director of cardiothoracic radiology and chair of the Radiology Service Excellence Program at the University of Michigan.  

“It is a way to show health care providers how to do their job well amidst complex systems,” Kazerooni said. By providing the key elements of personal touch, going the extra mile, and easy problem solutions, providers can deliver the promise of quality health care and create an ideal patient experience.

Within a hospital structure, SE can be achieved and measured through patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction and retention, departmental and individual awards, and employee engagement. By establishing a SE standard in which all levels of the radiology department are engaged in the process, you can quickly establish a helpful, positive culture that focuses not only on the patient but on residents, new staff training, and fellow staff members.

Once measurable goals are met, maintaining SE should become part of the department culture. This can be done by including SE in orientations for staff and residents, creating patient thank you cards and referral guides, as well as further departmental transparencies that foster the ideal patient experience.

At the University of Michigan, Kazerooni found that creating a “culture of yes” and a “we are here to help” attitude, not only improved their department SE in measurable metrics, but also the department began to feel different.

Radiologists in private practice can also benefit from the SE culture. According to Brent Wagner, MD, chief of the section of diagnostic radiology, Reading Health System, “Radiologist’s roles are changing and moving to a more service-driven model where it is essential to look beyond the reading room to small opportunities for excellence in practice every day, which make radiologists more valuable.”

By fairly distributing work amongst radiologists, providing strong radiology information systems, appropriate staffing levels, using a culture of cross coverage, and showing compassion during direct patient interactions, radiologists can provide cohesion within organizational goals and add value.

Physician contracts are based on operational relationships, so it is beneficial to build relationships even before you need them, Wagner said. Radiologists can provide cohesion to the vision of a hospital by looking for the small opportunities, and beyond financials to the bigger picture, and by broadly defining purpose.

Collegiality is one area of SE that is essential to all radiology professionals and particularly valuable to new radiologists. Brandon Brown, MD, a pediatric radiologist at Indiana University, describes collegiality as “the belief that there is a commitment to a common purpose, that the commitment can be trusted, and that there is a shared vision within a safe space. The newest radiologists in the group often struggle with navigating through areas of collegiality, culture, and collaboration during the onboarding process.”  

Fellow radiologists can play a key role in helping provide internal support through SE by being empathetic to the stressors of a new radiologist and helping in areas in which they need to build confidence.

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