“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 

– Albert Einstein

RSNA 2012 is underway, and the tagline is “Patients First.” It is amazing what can unfold when patients are first. It turns your radiology practice outside in. What this means is that all process, technology, and people are aligned to what patients need in receiving care.

In a recent Health Data Management article, “Seven Ways to Streamline Radiology,” the following strategies were outlined:

  1. Streamline Referrals
  2. Boost Network Speed
  3. Embrace the Cloud
  4. Speed Turnaround
  5. Pick a Platform
  6. Reduce Idle Time
  7. Outsource Billing

Imagine what each of these seven strategies would be when the patient is placed first! It would turn radiology outside in, taking in patient requirements and aligning each to meet their needs and interactions in the most fulfilling, productive, and high quality way.

Streamline Referrals. In an outside in practice, patient data would be entered once and easily accepted in electronically into the patient’s record. No clipboards would be necessary, and no need to have patients write out their data once again.

Boost Network Speed. It is about access, quick and efficient. A patient’s time is valuable, so gaining timely access to appointment information, location information, and record data is essential.

Embrace the Cloud. Patients are on the move, and having access anywhere, anytime is the new norm. Being “patient first” means being available to wherever the patient may be.

Speed Turnaround. Getting patients in and getting the results back to the referring physician is vital in an outside in approach. Waiting for patient reports can be challenging, as the results direct the next steps in patient care. It is fast along with quality; the two are tightly bound.

Pick a Platform. A platform centered on patients translates into an accessible and interoperable one. It is a platform that can scale to embrace a community of care as well as work with different healthcare standards and formats (e.g., HL7, CCD, X12, XML, etc.).

Reduce Idle Time. Efficiency of all involved is essential. This includes the idle time of patients, which translates in to minimal wait time for the visit and their results.

Outsource Billing. Getting timely payments enables radiology operations to work effectively. Getting the right bill to the right person at the right time is essential, too. Patient-centered billing is about accuracy and timeliness.

In 2007, I wrote about turning imaging practices outside in, and it is still relevant today. It may be even more significant with the industry changes happening with Meaningful Use and the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of the regulations and guidelines, putting patients first and designing your radiology practice from the outside in will deliver a competitive, customer-centered, and high quality experience.

As Albert Einstein pointed out, we need to change our thinking… on radiology workflows and operations. Using the RSNA theme – Patients First – is the first place to start.

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