How do you ensure your imaging department maintains consistent clinical quality control as resources become tighter and the marketplace becomes more fragmented?
2020 saw a fundamental shift in the patient’s preference of where they receive their healthcare. In 3rd quarter 2020 alone there was a 30x increase in virtual ambulatory visits when compared to the prior year. This trend is continuing in 2021 as patients are continuing to seek care outside of the traditional healthcare delivery model. The healthcare system and payers are responding by increasing access to their healthcare networks via asynchronous and distributed delivery models across their service areas. These changes have been great for the patient, by providing more convenience, lower costs, and faster service.
However, on the care delivery side, the net effect has been fracturing of the delivery system, erosion of operational efficacy, and added cost to the health system. Meanwhile, there remains significant pressure on staff time, increasing number of administrative tasks and processes that have not been adapted for the newly developed delivery models.
Why is this significant? “42% of [healthcare system] waste is due to quality shortfalls” according to a 2012 JAMA study. Moreover, the study states that “quality improvement should not be considered a separate challenge from cost. Instead, quality improvement is a critical part of reducing cost.”
What are some quick steps to improve your organizations consistency in imaging quality control?
Many organizations have made significant investments in enterprise standardization. However, an unintended consequence of creating new access points for healthcare is efficacy loss. Flexible standardization that can accommodate rapid changes in your key assumptions is going to be critical to maintaining standardization and cost savings. Whether the changes are asset lifecycle management & purchasing decisions, or changing where care is delivered, your solution must be flexible, universal, and OEM agnostic, to handle these necessary business changes. Look for technology that has these capabilities and can adapt to your changing business needs.
For example, AQS has created an enterprise-wide user solution that ensures the operator performs their regulatory required QC in a consistent manner. Standardizing the QC process eliminates errors and aids in faster resolution when variation is detected. This is accomplished by allowing the technology to account for the various variables, such as accreditation type, site of service, modality, different OEM standards, different phantom standards, etc., and reducing them into a consistent user workflow and operator experience - across the board
Automation is the gold standard for consistency because it decreases variation while saving time and reformats information in a way that can be leveraged to extract additional value. Both process variation and human variation are contributors to organizational waste and are a barrier to unlocking additional opportunities to leverage this information. Look for solutions that utilize automation for your daily administrative tasks that are repetitive and take your staff away from their primary focus—patient care. Ideally, you are looking for a technology that is fully automated and minimizes human interaction with the software—a single button click.
AQS is a fully automated QC solution that processes your daily phantom images. At the click of a button, the technology processes the phantom images consistently and in seconds. The solution automatically accounts for accreditation type, manufacturing specifications, imaging modality, and saves the operator an average 15 mins daily per imaging machine. Equally as important, the solution logs the results to facilitate rapid report generation to satisfy regulatory requirements and ensuring enterprise-wide consistency. Automation can save your operators hours of administrative time monthly, as compared to traditional paper processes, and ensure the consistency desired across your organization.
Realtime visibility & notifications
Quickly identifying care variation and rapid correction is the key to high performing organizations. Organization leaders are increasingly challenged with managing departments that are geographically separated, off campus or even in different county's. How can you be in multiple locations at the same time? Organizations should implement enterprise-wide dashboards that enable rapid assessments, diagnose overall system health, identify process errors, and alert decision makers when variation has occurred. Consider using technology to help monitor and alert you when there is a suspected variation or before a deviation occurs. This same technology should also provide a diagnosis of where the process-variation occurred to facilitate a quick resolution.
AQS is designed for the user, with simplicity in mind. The dashboard enables the administrator to quickly assess the overall health of the daily imaging QC program. At a quick glance, the administrator can review which equipment has not completed their regulatory required QC process, and if any of your equipment has failed to meet the OEM manufacturing specifications. In addition, the user is alerted of potential problems by direct communication and via the dashboard that shows how the equipment is trending over the past five days. These real time notifications and ability to trend data, can help to avoid unplanned downtime and prevent a poor patient experience when quality deviations are not discovered timely.