When it comes to our jobs, we've probably all experienced days where we feel tired and less motivated. But if you're a radiologist, you're more likely than ever to be experiencing workplace burnout, with classic symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, and doubts about high-quality, meaningful impact on clinical care. Often, the leading cause is too many images to process in too little time.
As health systems worldwide struggle to retain experienced physicians, hospitals are exploring innovative ways to support their clinical staff. At the same time, there is an ongoing transition toward value-based care, where reimbursements are based on better patient outcomes instead of on the volume of services provided (known as the fee-for-service, or FFS model). Increasingly, hospitals and health systems are discovering that a pivotal stage in patient care can make all the difference – that stage is diagnosis.
Breaking down silos
An accurate and timely diagnosis of a patient can affect not only when, but also how they are treated, and can direct the course of the patient journey. Within hospitals, imaging remains a central component, but medical images are often siloed in disparate systems, which can lead physicians to ask for repeat MRIs or X-rays. This is a problem for more than just providers: according to research by the Future Health Index, which surveyed patients in 13 countries, 60% reported repeatedly taking the same tests – which can be expensive, unnecessary and even unhealthy.
To reconnect both its systems and its staff, U.S. healthcare network Augusta University Health partnered with Philips. As part of the project, they installed an advanced visualization platform called IntelliSpace Portal, giving physicians quick access to images and information, including access to prior studies of their patients. This connected working environment allows care providers to achieve diagnoses faster and more efficiently. “Our radiologists can now sit down at virtually any machine in the hospital or even at home. The average turnaround time has decreased 22%,” says James Rawson, MD, Professor of Radiology at AU Health. That faster turnaround time could release some of the mounting pressure on radiologists to work longer hours, improving staff experience.
Zeroing in on opportunities
However, truly transforming diagnosis goes beyond improving imaging technology. Reimbursements are slowly shifting away from FFS and toward outcomes, which means providers need to find smart ways to deliver more efficient care. To help providers, our team at Philips created PerformanceBridge, a flexible suite of continuous improvement solutions built to help our customers identify areas for performance improvement and efficiency. PerformanceBridge Practice is one solution in the portfolio – it's a vendor-agnostic innovation that gives healthcare professionals access to near real-time data on departmental performance through an easy-to-use, interactive dashboard. It supports radiology department administrators in prioritizing operational improvements in asset management, equipment uptime and utilization, peer-to-peer collaboration, accreditation compliance, and practice management, and also enables better daily management of radiology operations.
Banner Health, one of the largest non-profit health systems in the country, has recently partnered with Philips to leverage PerformanceBridge Practice across all of its 28 radiology departments, to optimize and further deliver on its goal of improving care for its patients. "The pressure to reduce costs while increasing operational efficiency in the current healthcare environment is intense, which requires us to look at performance improvement in imaging very differently," said Becky Kuhn, Chief Operating Officer for Banner Health. "Investing in the right tools and technologies helps us to provide better service to our customers. Connecting our radiology assets, and getting a better view into the performance of our radiology departments, will help us to become more efficient, elevate patient safety, and save on capital investments. Ultimately this allows us to reinvest in what matters most – our patients."
Diagnosing beyond the hospital
Transforming diagnosis goes beyond hospital walls, too. In value-based care, health systems benefit when they keep people healthier and at home. One way to do this is by monitoring elderly and frail patients in their homes and daily life. Falls are a leading cause of fatal injury and non-fatal hospital admissions for people over 65, which is why providers are equipping them with fall-detecting pendants enabled with increasingly smart capabilities.
For many years these pendants have been able to sense if the wearer has fallen over and automatically call for help if they have not stood up again within a certain time. Recently, Philips combined a Lifeline pendant with a powerful predictive analytics engine called CareSage, which evaluates information including patient demographic and condition information along with changes in the wearer's behavior, to suggest risk of transport in the next 30 days.
The potential to improve patient care is enormous. CareSage creates a daily risk score about each wearer, which enables their doctor to intervene early – for example by checking in on them to make sure they are taking their medication or following condition-specific activities, such as monitoring blood pressure or blood sugar – thus helping to avoid preventable hospitalizations.
The award-winning innovation could also save hospitals much-needed funds. Non-profit U.S. healthcare group Partners Healthcare took a retrospective look at 2,318 patients who used a Lifeline pendant without CareSage over a five-year period. The study estimated that 224 expensive hospital transfers could potentially be avoided each year by using the predictive service, equal to a 40% reduction or a potential cost saving of $2.2 million.1
When it comes to value-based care, there is no magic bullet. However, through advanced technology there are significant opportunities to reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, and ease the burdens on physicians and staff. The fastest way to re-engage a physician is to allow them to return to their original motivation for studying medicine: the ability to care for patients.
For more information on Philips' partnership with Augusta University Health, please click here.
- Partners Healthcare, Retrospective Evaluation of Philips Lifeline CareSage Predictive Model on Patients of Partners Healthcare at Home, 2016