"Greening" Initiative within SIIM
By Prasanth Prasanna, MD
Today, both physicians and imaging informatics professionals are frequently being asked to do more with less. We are all familiar with trying to improve operational efficiency as a way to help improve throughput and reduce costs. However, consideration should also be given to sustainability and the environment when undergoing process improvement. It is possible to improve efficiency, reduce overhead, and be environmentally conscious at the same time. Where in your organization do you see areas for waste reduction and improvement in your carbon footprint? Are you interested in helping shape the future of informatics? SIIM is looking for members who are interested in the environmental impact of medicine, and ways to improve it. Drs. Prasanth Prasanna, Eliot Siegel and others hope to create a SIIM focus group to explore the issue further and help advance informatics in a sustainable fashion. If you are interested, please contact Anna Marie Mason at the SIIM office. In addition, SIIM is also inviting the imaging informatics community to submit abstracts on ‘greening radiology’ for the annual meeting in 2013. Submission deadline for abstracts is September 10, 2012.
Radiology has been at the forefront of medical technology for years; using powerful scanners, large racks of servers, and numerous computer workstations with monitors throughout the department. As medical enterprise turns to electronic medical records, computer systems will be more present in hospitals, leading to mounting energy needs, cost, and as a result, increased greenhouse gas production. Sustainability, both from a cost and an environmental perspective, needs to continually be a priority. With a simple electricity meter we were able to show an almost $10,000 cost savings (approximately 83,000 kWh) at the Baltimore VA, just by shutting down PACS workstations when not needed (our study did not include non-PACS workstations, which would likely lead to even larger savings). This energy-use reduction not only saves money, but prevents the production of 7.5 tons of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and particulate matter. In addition to helping the environment, patients’, and our own, health will also benefit from cleaner air. While electricity is only one of the impacts radiology has on our ecosystem, there are other areas that are ripe for exploration. What other initiatives could we consider to increase our social or environmental efficiencies? What can your group do to reduce overhead and improve its carbon footprint? What hard data can you share with other groups? What metrics will you use to show your carbon offset improvements? From simple to complex, SIIM is looking for solution abstracts for the annual meeting in 2013. Submission deadline for abstracts is September 10, 2012.
Reading Room Efficiency
The complexity of medical imaging has been growing immensely over the past few years. With genomic medicine on the horizon and further integration of the EHR into the radiologist workflow, a larger and larger amount of information will be available for the radiologist to digest and interpret. We are also challenged with increasing patient throughput, while reducing costs and maintaining quality interpretations of exams. Business intelligence tools have been helpful in solving part of this dilemma by giving an overview of a department’s function and areas of improvement. However, these tools do not help radiologists consume data faster, or provide assistance in interpretation. In addition, some of these tools do not address potential areas of lost overhead from waste, nor the environmental impact of medicine. Finally, we need to consider the effects of increased throughput on all members of a department. With increased numbers of studies, there lies the potential for higher burnout rates and dissatisfaction amongst physicians, non-physician workers, and patients. Improving reading room efficiency not only affects departmental workflow, but factors outside the reading room as well.
We invite authors to submit abstracts that involve, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- Tools for assisting clinical workflow and information gathering/metabolism.
- Integrating EHR and PACS into the clinical workflow.
- Improving energy efficiency in the reading room, including but not limited to workstations, lighting, HVAC.
- Cost reduction through increased workflow efficiency.
- Reducing radiologist/technologist fatigue and burnout.
- Communication tools to decrease interruptions in clinical workflow.
- Changing the culture of an organization to promote greater efficiency or implementation of new policies.
Questions to think about:
- What are areas of electricity waste exist in your facility?
- What information do you typically need when interpreting specific studies? How would you like that to be displayed for easiest access?
- How do you deal with interruptions to the clinical workflow? Are these from phone calls? Tech questions?
- What are some ways to take clinical tools developed at academic radiology centers and distribute them to private practice radiologists?
- What are your experiences in applying theoretical knowledge to everyday practice?
- What do you do to help reduce stress at work?
- How are patients treated at your facility? How have you ensured quality, efficient health care, while maintaining the humanity required for patient care?
- What vendor support could be helpful in improving efficiency in the reading room?
- How can you get buy in from staff and management for these improvements?
- Are there any non traditional ways to interact with PACS that may improve efficiency and decrease strain on radiologist?
- Is there a role for social media to improve departmental workflow?