Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

In Radiology, Turnaround Time is King

Published on the Nov. 13, 2015, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

In today’s health care environment, radiology is being asked to be the Medical Six Million Dollar Man – the specialty is expected to be better, stronger, and faster than before. And, integral to that achievement is the quickest radiology report turnaround time possible.

The quest for the most rapid turnaround time (TAT) isn’t new – in many ways, it’s been the Holy Grail of radiology for nearly a decade. But, there’s a growing number of tools now available that are designed to shave away the amount of time it takes a radiologist to read a study and return his or her diagnosis to a referring physician. The question plaguing providers – and industry experts – is how fast is too fast?

“Turnaround times are variable. Some tests require 15 minutes to read, such as chest X-rays for pneumonia or CT scans for brain bleeds, and others require longer,” said Eric England, MD, radiology assistant professor and residency director for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “The biggest issue is that this is being used as a way to measure the quality of radiology services. Rather than the quality of the report, more emphasis is placed on the turnaround time.”

Importance
According to a 2013 Imaging Performance Partnership TAT survey of 86 hospitals, imaging centers, children’s hospitals, and academic medical centers, hospital and practice leaders rank efficient TATs among their highest priorities – assigning it a 5.7 and 5.5 out of 6 rating, respectively.

The emphasis placed on TAT has already sparked changes, based on survey results. Between 2009 and 2012, reading times for non-advanced imaging in all care settings dropped by 54.5%. For example, emergency department (ED) TAT dropped from an average of 2 to 4 hours to between 30 minutes and 2 hours; inpatient times from same day to 4to 8 hours; and outpatient from 24 hours to 4 to 8 hours. Making these changes is vital to demonstrating radiology’s impact and importance, study authors wrote.

“Ensuring radiologist performance on fundamental aspects of reading and reporting is a critical starting point for radiology group leaders looking to remain competitive and demonstrate value to hospital partners,” authors wrote about the survey results.

To read the remainder of the article at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/radiology-turnaround-time-king?cid=tophero

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November 13, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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