Imaging Matters: The Training Matrix

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By John Garrett

Deciding on what service should be brought in-house seems fairly straight forward at first look. However, like most things in life, it grows more complex as it develops. Sending team members to schools without a plan on implementation can quickly become a waste of money. That is why it makes sense to develop an overall training matrix that may change over time. It should consider all team members, equipment age, equipment variety, return on investment (ROI) and the ability to implement the training in a meaningful way.

The first consideration should be how much money will sending the team member to a school save on contracts or outside service. When making these calculations there has to be an allowance for the cost of parts and shipping. A service history, if accurately documented, should provide a fairly accurate estimation. This is the same point that the practicality of a team member taking on a device should be considered. Even when other data is accurate in the development of the training matrix, the reality of adding another modality or device to the responsibility of a team member is often not considered. If the team member is running at maximum capacity, adding a responsibility may require that they drop a current responsibility and pass it to someone else. Is there a plan to get someone else trained for that responsibility? Is there a responsibility that will fall off because of updating equipment will remove old equipment? Can the individual train another team member via on-the-job training?

An often missed consideration is the aptitude of the team member considered for training. There are individuals who have done very well as the go-to person for nuclear medicine cameras that have struggled with the realities of servicing CT units. Just as there are individuals that do well in general X-ray that cannot make a successful transition into a cath lab. There may be other training that is required to allow them to be successful. It may be time management, customer-service skills or how to deal with high-stress situations. Understanding the strengths of the individuals that make up the team can be critical to creating a good training matrix.

If you have large contracts negotiated as part of a health care system, you need to know what your service contracts require. You may not be able to lower coverage, or may have long-term obligations that would negate any benefit of training.

Finally, a good training matrix can be made better if there is in-house training included. This requires dedication and support from management. It might require calling in outside services to ensure time is protected for the training. This can be augmented by well negotiated service contracts. Many independent service organizations (ISO) will include on-the-job training or formal training for team members as part of the contract. A training matrix that shows a true maximum ROI and can be implemented properly requires a good deal of consideration and thought. However, once put into place it can make a huge difference to your organization and, as such, contribute to improving health care overall.

John Garrett has 20 years experience in imaging service including general radiation, mammography, CT and nuclear medicine. He has worked for third-party service companies, manufacturers, sales companies and in-house imaging teams.

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