Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The QA Guy: Transitioning Beyond the Reading Room
For many of us, July is a time of transition. Residents and fellows move on to further training or independent practice. Fresh faces of eager trainees join our departments. New faculty, associates, and partners join our professional circles.
July is also an excellent time to evaluate our practices and what we have accomplished in the last twelve months. Did we reach our goals? Did we have too many goals? Were our goals unattainable? How have our improvements impacted the care we give our patients?
In this era of dashboards and quality data, it is easy to become complacent with green lights on a screen or bars reaching beyond an arbitrary threshold on a chart. We should constantly be searching for ways to improve the quality of care we provide and ensure the safety of our patients. This requires a constant team approach. As radiologists, we can alter how we report studies or how our scanning protocols are designed, but we may not be able to directly impact patient experiences in the parking lot, in the waiting room, or in the cafeteria. Do we know if our patients are satisfied with the appointment scheduling process? Maybe not or maybe we have administrators to handle that job for us. Nevertheless, whether we like it or not, healthcare has moved away from the silo of the individual provider to the healthcare team.
Echoing many other voices in the radiology community, we as a profession have the responsibility to be advocates for our patients and our institutions. Active involvement at the institution level outside of our department is one way to have a positive impact and show that we are not merely creatures of the dark who communicate via electronic reports (which frequently employ some strange linguistic phenomena). Radiologists should be involved anywhere from medical records committees to compliance and patient safety committees. Radiologists should be involved with construction and remodeling plans. We should play active roles in multidisciplinary conferences. It is essential that we remind our colleagues that we, too, are physicians, and we have a stake in the wellbeing of our patients and institutions. Our own professional practices should reflect the attitudes, missions, and values of our institutions.
Look back at the last twelve months and ask yourself if you are satisfied with what you have accomplished in your practice. Can you make a bigger difference outside of the reading room to your practice and patients? If so, this July may be a great time to consider some transitions in your professional life.