In an environment where hospitals’ profit margins are becoming tighter, what is the most likely area where they can cut costs? Well, it’s undoubtedly not surgery or nursing. That would look not very good for the hospital and drive competitors elsewhere. Could it be hospital beds? No, because that would lead to direct patient complaints and less capacity. Is it the high-tech equipment and hardware? Not usually, because that is a great marketing tool to get doctors to refer patients your way. Instead, unfortunately, the places where a hospital can cut costs are usually the behind-the-scenes. And one of these areas on the chopping block is radiology IT support.
Who cares if the radiologists if a radiologist’s job is more demanding? It doesn’t affect the hospital’s bottom line, right? Does it matter if the radiologists must stay an hour later to deal with PACS crashes, firewall issues, and incompatibility with outside studies? The radiologists need to get their job done anyway for patient care. Well, that philosophy has become commonplace in the world of hospital savings.
In reality, the costs of not supporting a hospital’s information technology are enormous. It decreases efficiency for doctors, patient outcomes, and staff morale. And hospitals certainly do get complaints, albeit on the back end. So, what are the tangible results of having poor IT support, and why should hospitals treat this issue as mission-critical for the system. Let’s delve into the reasons why.
Radiology IT Support Allows For Quicker Turn Around Time
Turnaround time is one of those statistics that hospitals hang their hats on to show that they are efficient. And what is one of the most significant factors in a delayed turnaround time? Well, it’s the radiology study. The time it takes for the patient to have dictated images is widely dependent on having a constantly functioning PACS and dictation system. Patients will have to stick around longer without a functioning IT support system, a money-losing proposition.
Better Patient Treatment
Not having IT support may mean malfunctioning networks and servers for many reasons (decreased bandwidth, storage capacity, etc.). Often, this process results in loss of access to priors. And guess what? As I said in my previous rant on priors, this leads to poorer patient care because of decreased specificity and sensitivity. Or, it can even lead to disastrous outcomes if you can’t process studies like CTAs of the brain. And these are just some horrible outcomes of many!
Increases Morale (Waiting on The Phone)
Want to keep your doctors within the hospital system in a competitive market. Then be sure to support IT. Radiologists, physicians, and nurses are more apt to leave when they notice a constant breakdown of the electronic health records and PACS systems. These nagging factors are a continuous source of reported physician burnout (among others). We should be trying to maintain our physicians, not creating a revolving door!
Increasing Patient Satisfaction Scores
One of those other factors that hospitals love to tout is their patient satisfaction surveys. Hospitals regularly feature positive survey outcomes on billboards and commercials to show that they are competent institutions. Well, guess what? Those scores will not cut the mustard if patients have to stay in-house because no one can access the electronic records!
Saves Hospital Costs
The costs of malfunctioning electronic support systems are substantial. Imagine having to keep your patient for extra days in the department because a lack of support prevents patient discharge. Based on this issue alone, costs skyrocket to thousands of dollars per day for a hospital stay. And this doesn’t account for all the other expenses that a poorly served electronic health records and PACs system entail!
Radiology IT Support Is Not An Option That Hospitals Can Skip!
Although many hospitals would like to skip this “expensive” service to save money, you need the full-time support of a dedicated IT team for better patient care, decreasing hospital costs, and increasing the system’s efficiency. Although not evident on the front end, the downstream effects can be enormous. By not supporting IT, hospitals are merely shooting themselves in the foot. It’s not an option that hospitals can skip!