Changing circumstances present new challenges
Imaging services operate with goals and boundaries in terms of financial outcome, number of procedures, quality and turnaround time of imaging and reporting, as well as patient satisfaction. Challenges can occur when declining reimbursements result in the need to scan more patients in order to break even. Further challenges may be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, staff shortages, training and workload management, growing demand, long times between scan request and appointment, long times in waiting rooms for patients, and the need to be able to handle emergency cases in a timely manner.
“In general, we see that the demands for MRI are growing rapidly”, says Kris Giordano. “Even the orthopedics use seems to be broadening, which can create growing demand. Also, in our current mode of working past COVID-19, we’re tasked with an overabundance of patients, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can do to mitigate that burden.”
A growing population of patients with implants in particular require a substantial amount of attention from MR staff, who must first find out which implant the patient has, then find the MR scanning conditions from the implant manufacturer. Furthermore, setting up the scan to remain within these scanning conditions may require iterative adaptions of scan parameters. According to Mr. Giordano, “The collaborative team effort in researching MR implants really has been a major time crunch. This job alone, to complete that task prior to patient arrival, almost necessitates additional staffing.”
Growing demands provide opportunities for business expansion, but may also increase the pressure on imaging department and staff. When demand increases because new MRI capabilities have become available, additional training for radiographers will need to be scheduled. Some sites have begun to try to reduce patient waiting times by increasing scanning throughput.2