By Sharon Mohammed, RT(R), CT, ARRT
This is Part 2 of a two-part submission. Read Part 1 here.
Radiology is an important medical specialty, driven by limitless technological advances. Various imaging modalities are now central to diagnosing and treating various diseases for patients all across the globe. Despite the recent changes in the radiology landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for imaging services will continue to increase. Moving forward, radiology leaders must develop new approaches and strategies to define the pathway forward.
The lack of in-person interaction between radiologists, trainees and technologists had a negative impact on education. Also, a large percentage of hospital inpatient volume had consisted of chest imaging for COVID-19 patients. Decreased outpatient imaging volume impacted the training and education of radiology residents and technologists. The value of seeing and performing a wide array of examinations, a vital component of technologist training, had been markedly diminished due to the significant decrease in imaging volume and breadth of pathology for the majority of radiologic technologists.1
Several innovative strategies were developed to compensate for these limitations and enhance the educational experience of residents and technologists during the height of the pandemic. Additional didactic conferences and virtual case conferences led by quality control managers and teams were developed. To ensure that trainees would not lose the daily clinical experience for an extended period, innovative teaching opportunities were created. This required a collaborative effort of radiology leadership, quality managers and lead technologists. Tasks that needed to be completed included: the selections of topics to discuss, comprising of the right mix of technical and clinical information; the development of an “educational” environment and the ability to conduct these sessions either on-site or remotely while maintaining the appropriate social distancing and keeping staff fully engaged. Trainees were expected to sign in for the duration of the presentation and participate in a question-and-answer session at the end.
A crucial element to consider while creating these CE sessions was maintaining social distancing between the presenters and session attendees. Access to the environment was provided using workstation virtualization and screen sharing solutions over a virtual private network. When trainees accessed the session from a remote location using the virtual private network, they were able to interact and had full access to departmental WebEx (Cisco Systems, Milpitas CA) to allow for screen sharing, cursor/input control.
Virtual platforms proved to be an excellent way to connect teams on a higher level. The utilization of a virtual classroom for a daily huddle enabled leadership to conduct conversations that achieve intended educational goals.1
Radiology departments remain on the forefront of identifying COVID-19 in patients. The radiology market and environment are constantly evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on radiology practices and will command how health care and radiology services are delivered in the future. It is critical for team leaders to find ways to support the culture of the department both on the individual level and on the broader organizational level. It is more important than ever to cultivate professional and personal connections. A positive and proactive approach to employees’ well-being is essential.
Workflows must be able to keep pace with internal and external developments, or risk becoming unable to fit the constantly changing needs of patients, the organization and its’ employees. Radiology leaders must track and measure new workflows, decipher pain points and operational bottlenecks. Each workflow must run with optimal efficiency. This includes efficiency and productivity in clinical processes, patient satisfaction, regulatory compliance and the engagement of all stakeholders in the radiology workforce.
1. Mohammed, S., Molvin L.Z., Enhancing Technologist Education during the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Creation of Technologist Educational In-Services, Radiologic Technologist, Radiologic Technology, forthcoming 2022.
2. Mohammed S, Molvin L.Z., Team building and productivity among technologists., AHRA, Radiology Management, MAY/JUNE 2021, p.17-21
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