This latest RPC Indices announced on February 26th has me reflecting on a number of my prior publications about healthcare IT, and the need to be better at operational planning – the “why” behind the “how” and the “what.”
Why make the RPC Indices available? vRad wants to provide data that helps radiologists and hospitals ask better questions. This applies not just to clinicians but also to IT. Many times, IT approaches clinical services as merely another project to be completed. Often IT doesn’t have a complete picture therefore starting with the wrong question – a smaller
question – “How do I complete this implementation?” Or “What technology do we need to solve this problem/opportunity” – often times not realizing it is actually tied to a bigger set of issues.
The question to consider at a higher level is this: “Why are we doing this?” “Why are we completing this project?” “Why will this make radiologists, ED physicians (or fill in your favorite clinician here) more efficient?” “Does it make sense economically for clinicians and patients?” “Why are we building a radiology service line instead of hiring an outside group?”
It’s no secret Big Data and analytics driving outcomes analysis is changing healthcare; the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and healthcare reform (fee-for-value will trump fee-for-service) are factors driving the need to harness data. But hospitals are still trying to figure out how to tame the data, turn it into information and eventually knowledge.
Why must they figure out how to turn data into information and knowledge? Because analytics will be at the core of what drives radiology and its influence in healthcare in the future. ED physicians and radiologists outside vRad are telling us they WANT the information and knowledge the RPC Indices represent.
Why? Here’s one answer:
“Access to normalized data and benchmarks, like the RPC Indices, has been challenging with our existing systems. But it is exactly this level of insight that we need in order to be in control of our future,” explained Richard Maenza, MD, FACEP, an ED physician at Sharon Regional Health System, in Sharon, Pennsylvania. “I want to be the one shining the spotlight on our use of imaging as referring physicians, comparing ourselves to our peers and partnering with our radiologists on operational decisions to improve efficiency and value to patients and hospital administrators. If we don’t do it, someone else will do it for us.”
They believe this kind of data can help them not only work better with radiology but also run their EDs more effectively. Can you imagine what will happen if radiology and the ED collaborate to improve efficiencies and care?
Can you imagine what kind of goodwill it will engender if health IT people are part of this alliance?
What do you think? Is this possible in your facility? Before you set IT off to solve a technology problem (replace the PACS, implement a VNA, and deliver data sharing) make sure to ask yourself the “Whys”. Technology can enable the ED and radiology, sure, but empowering the process with the knowledge necessary to build an appropriate radiology service line will be a game changer driving efficiencies that far exceed anything technology on its own can provide.