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What It Takes To Be an Imaging Center of Excellence


Hackensack University Medical Center has earned ACR’s distinction as one of the first two Diagnostic Imaging Centers of Excellence. Here’s how they did it.

The radiology department at Hackensack University Medical Center has always been committed to patient safety and quality of care. But now they have a unique distinction to prove it.

The Bergen County, NJ, facility was recently recognized by the American College of Radiology as one of the first two Diagnostic Imaging Centers of Excellence.

This distinction, also awarded to the Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine, shows the medical center went above and beyond accreditation, proving high quality in areas such as personnel, equipment specifications, outcomes measurement and quality control systems, safety policies, utilization reviews, facility management and patient outcomes. The center was also evaluated in service, availability of imaging and radiologists, and image interpretation and quality.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"14193","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_9222787725802","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"708","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":"float: right; margin: 5px;","title":"Harry Agress Jr., MD, FACR","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]“By being so stringent and so specific, it not only speaks to the elements of patient safety and care, but it also goes to the point that we take this job very, very seriously,” said Harry Agress Jr., MD, FACR, chairman emeritus of the Department of Radiology at Hackensack University Medical Center, speaking in a podcast interview with Diagnostic Imaging. “This says we feel a great deal of responsibility for that.”

Agress and Jason Kreitner, MHA, RT, (R)(T), FACHE, administrator of clinical services at Hackensack, convened a multidisciplinary team to review the ACR standards set in the application. Together, that team tackled each area to ensure they met the requirements, he said. It turned out the medical center was already following most of the standards, and a few areas needed attention.

For example, the team upgraded and formalized many of their policies and procedures, such as those documenting communication with referring physicians. They also clarified some job descriptions, and spent time formalizing their education and marketing of radiation safety to patients and referrers.

Agress noted a few elements that make Hackensack unique, including that they have 24-7 coverage by onsite attending physicians, rather than outsourced radiologists or residents and fellows. That makes the radiology department available for consultation at any time, he said, and allows for faster turnaround times.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"14194","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_1973456998479","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"709","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":"float: right; margin: 5px;","title":"Jason Kreitner, MHA, RT, (R)(T), FACHE","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Now, with this Center of Excellence distinction, the facility can show to patients and referring physicians that they are taking that extra step, Agress said. “We are really a high-level imaging center [and] we care a great deal about our patients and the quality of what we are doing.”

The 25-page application can be a bit overwhelming, officials said, but it’s worth the effort. And Kreitner has already received calls from other facilities asking how they achieved this recognition and what the process was like.

“This exemplifies to our patients and physicians in our community that quality is paramount,” he said, “and demonstrates that we made the investment in ensuring we deliver the highest possible care to our patients.”

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