Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Engage Employees, Improve Radiology Patient Experience

Published on the July 19, 2017, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney J. Palmer

In today’s health care environment, improved patient experience is a buzz phrase. It can determine your patient flow and your reimbursement levels. And, it depends on much more than simply providing appropriate care.

According to Michael Janis, MBA, RT, director of outpatient and ancillary services at HSHS St. Anthony Memorial Hospital in Effingham, IL, how engaged your colleagues are in their jobs and in your organization’s mission directly impacts the experience individual patients have. In fact, it can be crucial to your facility’s performance.

Maximizing colleague engagement depends on how well you explain your organization’s mission and values and how well employees understand your expectations for their performance. The clearer you are, the easier it is for them to fulfill your goals and augment the experiences your patients have, he said.
“Often, we get in the weeds with budgets and productivity, and we miss the need for engagement,” Janis said. “Remember that your colleagues want to feel connected to the hospital and its mission.”
But, with national data showing that only 30% of U.S. employees are actively engaged with their jobs, you will likely have to teach your employees how to be more invested in what they do. There are things you can do, though, that will ultimately lead to greater patient experiences.
Employee Engagement: Teach your employees that job satisfaction and happiness aren’t the same thing, he said. Their daily mood is irrelevant to whether they are satisfied in the workplace.

“Someone’s everyday day feeling isn’t an indicator. Colleagues must feel connected with the mission and values of the organization,” Janis said. “If they can’t connect with the organization’s values, then there are opportunities elsewhere.”
If they feel they’re operating within the mission and values, bad days are less likely to spill over into their performance with patients.
Patient Satisfaction: Overall, patients want to be satisfied with their experience and feel better. But, the language of health care can make it difficult for them to understand how to make changes and why they’re important. In radiology, having technologists who take the time to explain studies, tell the patient they’re washing their hands for safety, and discuss what will happen can greatly enhance how a patient walks away feeling about the encounter.

“It’s really not negotiable,” Janis said. “This is what we must do, and it must be done with a smile.”
To read the remainder of the article, click here.


October 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Emergency Preparedness in Radiology

Published on the Oct. 5, 2017 DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney J. Palmer

“All the roads were flooded in Houston around the hospital,” said Susan John, MD, chair of diagnostic and interventional imaging at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center. “No one came in or out after Saturday night, and the waters didn’t recede until Monday.”

That was the scene in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 3 storm that hit Houston in late August, causing massive destruction and city-wide flooding. In the middle of the havoc, though, medical personnel, including radiologists, continued to provide necessary patient care services.

Staying active during and following a hurricane is possible, she said. To do so, though, practices and departments must follow emergency protocols. In many cases, especially for radiologists affected by Harvey and Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm that struck south Florida in early September, these policies were the result of lessons learned from past experiences.
They can serve as a guide for you or others if you, one day, find yourself facing a hurricane. And, if you handle preparedness well, said Benjamin Freedman, MD, chief of radiology at Memorial Healthcare System in Florida, you’ll not only safeguard your quality of care, but you could also improve your relationships.
“Sharing a safe place really can serve to strengthen the relationship between the group of radiologists working together and the referring physicians, technologists, staff, and administrators,” he said.
Planning Personnel
Establish a coverage schedule well in advance of a storm, Freedman said. Don’t wait to assign shifts at the last minute — that creates unneeded stress and confusion. Additionally, plan to have enough providers and staff on-hand during the storm. Adequate personnel is critical, he said.

“It’s the natural inclination during a storm to have as few people at the hospital as possible to keep your staff safe,” he said. “But, you actually need enough people there so everyone working during the storm won’t get burned out over the several days everyone might be stuck in the hospital.”
Texas’s Heath Science Center, which serves Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, addressed this problem by relying on existing work schedules to assign hurricane coverage. Instead of creating new hurricane schedules, staff already scheduled to work when the hurricane hit stayed on call during the storm, John said. They were divided into two teams — ride out (those who stayed in-house and worked during the storm) and recovery (those who provided aftermath relief).
Communicate clearly, early, and often with your staff, she said, so they know which team they’re on.
“People need to have enough time to make arrangements for their families and to prepare themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally,” she said.
Changing teams can be tricky after a storm, said Kelly Burton, imaging manager for Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. It can take a while for your recovery team to safely make it back to work, and you must maintain staffing until then. Her facility ensured enough staff were on hand by requiring ride out and recovery team members to physically “High 5” as they traded spots — that way, she said, everyone knew their replacement had arrived.
Work with IT Staff

Before any major storm hits, Freedman said, talk with your IT staff about any steps needed to strengthen your PACS system or how you or your colleagues might be able to provide services remotely.

In addition, work with IT personnel to disseminate all downtime procedures so everyone knows the process for continuing to provide care if your facility loses communication capabilities during the storm.
“We had a book of downtime procedures at every work station so if communications or power went down and we were dependent on a generator, our radiologists would still know what to do,” he said.
The handbook was helpful, he said, when one CT scanner lost contact with the Memorial PACS system. Instead of halting services, radiologists read and interpreted studies off the scanner itself.
To read the remainder of the article, click here.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment


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