Radiology can deliver quality, affordable care with some cleanup

2021 07 29 22 59 5818 Increased Quality Speed Efficiency 400

Redesigning workflow and eliminating wasteful practices can enable radiology departments to provide the highest quality care while remaining financially stable, according to a presentation on August 1 at the AHRA annual meeting.

Carla Knisley of OhioHealth.Carla Knisley of OhioHealth.

In her talk, Carla Knisley, director of clinical support services at OhioHealth discussed the importance of creating value for consumers, developing ideas to support delivery of high-quality and affordable care, and leading through "change" to work smarter and more efficiently.

"The ultimate goal is to lower the cost of healthcare for employers and the community we serve at the same time while delivering high quality of care," she said.

Today's patients are being held more financially responsible with higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Healthcare providers meanwhile are trying to deliver the highest quality of care while making things affordable for patients.

Costs will also become transparent to patients with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Transparency in Coverage Rule, which may drive patients to choose health plans more based on value. The rule requires group health plans to disclose price and cost-sharing information to participants, beneficiaries, and enrollees.

At OhioHealth, a process-improvement method called quality and affordability (Q&A) has helped the institution design, implement, and measure the big ideas needed to thrive in this new environment, according to Knisley.

"We know this is more than a challenge largely due to the reimbursement changes. It makes our margins narrower," she said. "However, we are doing the work differently in order to maintain our commitment to our communities."

Such commitments include providing healthcare services to all communities, updated equipment, and a more digital experience -- all while remaining financially stable.

Workflow redesign is one part of Q&A that evaluates the effectiveness of healthcare workloads. Knisley said redesigning the workflow could create more value by challenging the status quo of how healthcare providers and other departments in medical facilities, including radiologists, work. This can lead to working smarter and more efficiently, including decreasing internal costs.

For example, OhioHealth started using mailings that qualified for not-for-profit prices, saving the department over $100,000. Also, parking garages at hospitals began using fewer light bulbs and started to utilize LED lights, saving over $88,000 annually, Knisley said. In addition, equipping a robot with 135 of the most commonly filled drugs in OhioHealth's pharmacy division saved time for staff and about $124,000 each year.

Knisley also said transparency is key to successful implementation of workflow redesigns. Doing so, along with being open to new ideas, can create engagement beyond workgroups and generate a culture of continuous improvement, she said.

However, convincing facilities to find efficiencies may take some effort. Knisley listed some ways for hospital divisions to highlight the benefits of redesigning workflows. These include talking with stakeholders, working with other departments, and garnering support from the finance office and lean-promotion groups to assist with metrics and data gathering.

Knisley said it is "extremely crucial" that healthcare systems, including radiologists, implement efficient practices to save costs while keeping patient care services affordable for consumers.

"You still need to provide an infrastructure and provide that care for all of our communities and meet their needs," she said.

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