Radiologists across the healthcare industry are increasingly charged to do more with less. Private radiology practices feel the squeeze more than others, with narrower margins and less economy of scale. It’s crucial that these practices operate at maximum efficiency.
Roper Radiologists PA is a private radiology practice in Charleston, South Carolina. The highly sub-specialized team of 25 radiologists read 300,000 imaging studies a year. The practice faced challenges that will be familiar to most radiologists: Smarter use of sub-specialists, efficiently distributing and assigning studies, and optimizing resources to handle present volume and allow for future growth. As a small practice, they were also concerned with reducing after-hours work and promoting healthy work-life balance throughout the organization.
To help meet these challenges, Roper adopted Change Healthcare Workflow Intelligence™. In just one year, the practice has seen dramatic, measurable improvement in all of these challenges.
The Human Cost of Inefficient Workflow
Before their trial with Change Healthcare Workflow Intelligence, Roper Radiologists was challenged to properly prioritize scans, route scans to the right sub-specialists, and generally make the best use of their radiologists’ time and expertise.
Despite these challenges, the practice was out-performing their peers in average turnaround times (TAT). But they could see room for improvement in outlier cases—those over the 95th percentile for turnaround. The average TAT for outliers was longer than 49 minutes. “Since our median ED turnarounds are extremely short… [it] may not seem like a big deal,” says Dr. Matthew Brady, Diagnostic Radiologist at Roper Radiologists PA. “But those are real patients waiting for their results.”
Inefficiency and lack of structure were also affecting the radiologists themselves, lowering morale and affecting quality of life. “If you’re totally disorganized with an unstructured worklist, and you’re overwhelmed every day, that’s a terrible situation,” says Brady.
The practice tried to mitigate the problem with the filtering capabilities built into their PACS worklist, but they soon realized they needed a more sophisticated solution.
Dynamic Worklists Lead to Operational Improvement
With Change Healthcare Workflow Intelligence, Roper Radiologists was able to take control of their reading environment. Its rules engine assigns each study a numbered priority, then automatically routes them to the most appropriate available resource. The solution continually updates and reprioritizes in real time until cases are complete. All the data that runs through the solution is time-stamped and tracked for analysis and further optimization.
Almost immediately after deploying the solution, Roper saw improvements in their processes. Their TAT improved significantly:
- 56% reduction in ED studies read after 45 minutes*
- 75-minute improvement in TAT for outlier studies in the ICU*
- 50% reduction in ICU studies read after 60 minutes*
The improvements weren’t all on the patient side, either—the solution improved radiologist quality of life as well. The practice saw a 26% reduction* in reports dictated after 5 pm. By optimizing workloads and making smarter use of available resources, radiologists are finding better work-life balance and the practice is saving money. Over one year, for ten radiologists, Roper estimates Change Healthcare Workflow Intelligence saved them 15 weeks of work*, or about $145,000 in recouped labor costs alone*.
Customizing Workflows for a Perfect Fit
With increased visibility into their workload, Roper could create their own load-balancing rules without micromanaging their radiologists. They were able to look beyond the way work had always been assigned and find new efficiencies. Say Brady, “[don’t be] constrained by the filters and choices you’re used to. You can create any grouping of studies and leverage it to break up the work that you have.”
For Roper, part of the solution was assigning two full-time employees to ED studies. Before, Brady says, “you always had ED responsibility in the back of your mind. Now you know exactly when you’re responsible for it, which makes your workday a lot more sane.”
A Continuing Journey of Optimization
For Roper, the data that Change Healthcare Workflow Intelligence collects is one of its most valuable features. “We can use the data to evaluate our changes and decisions,” Brady says. Ongoing analysis and review can help Roper build on their initial success, streamlining operations and continually optimizing in the future.
*Data supplied by Roper Radiologist