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Incremental Improvements for Radiologists Can Add Up To Big Gains In Performance

Because I work as a teleradiologist, I (thankfully) no longer have to commute to get to work. Living in southern California, traffic is one of the things I do not miss at all. I used to spend a lot of time behind the wheel driving to the hospital where I worked, thinking of ways I could make my commute faster and more efficient. Admittedly, I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to time and efficiency, especially in the way I work.

Inefficiencies on the road that cause traffic congestion aren’t really all that different from the barriers which can slow down our work: volume, technology, infrastructure and time. I want to get where I’m going (a diagnosis) via the best, safest route possible. But I also don’t want to waste time. It’s all about finding a balance between accuracy and speed. After all, incremental improvements in speed can add up to big gains in performance and ultimately, compensation.

As radiologists, there are things we can do to make our work more accurate. We can take CME courses, review common misses, take more time to read and change search patterns. There are also things that we as doctors can do to make us faster using the tools at our disposal, especially with computers and voice dictation assisting in making reports. As someone who has worked with many different systems, I’ve found that vRad’s platform is by far the best at helping cut out the inefficiencies, especially compared to processes I’ve worked with in the past. I’ve also found that vRad’s platform lets me work to my potential and earn more.

 

A BETTER WAY OF GETTING THERE

Back when I was a resident we used people to transcribe the studies. We spoke into the phone, dictated the headers, views, indications, and then covered all over the different systems where you had to say everything. Thirty minutes later we’d get a report to proofread and then click send. It was very inefficient. Even normal studies would take 30-40 seconds just to say all of the normal things. Over the course of a shift or the week, those seconds would add up and slow things down. It felt like being stuck in traffic.

vRad has a much better system. Everything that can be pulled from the patient's chart is right there in front of you, so you don’t have to repeat things that you are simply reading from a computer screen. Plus, you can use macros to say many of the things you would normally have to say over and over… and over. So now if I find myself saying the same thing more than 5 times a month, I’ll make a macro for it. In fact, I can create my own system for each thing I routinely say.

Radiology jobs

 

SHORTCUTS AND ALTERNATE ROUTES

For example, I’ve made marcos for all of the normal positive findings I see. I have a “Positive appendicitis” where it creates a macro describing an appendix where I just need to put in the size. It also has an impression of “Positive appendicitis with no evidence of perforation.” Other examples include “Large spleen 13” to “Large spleen 22” where it describes splenomegaly going from 13 inches to 22 inches. I have an “Ultrasound gallstones” macro where it describes a RUQ ultrasound that has a nondistended gallbladder with multiple gallstones. The vRad system ensures that I can cut out most of the talking I have to do and creates a report that ensures the things I said don’t have voice recognition errors.

Another aspect of the vRad platform that I really appreciate is the ability to eliminate any non-necessary information or “noise” so that I can focus only on the issue at hand. Since the system breaks it down by body parts, if I’m reading a spleen for example, I can have a macro that just says “gallstones” which compartmentalizes the data that I need to review. I don’t have to put up three or four different views, or take time to enter basic information because the platform auto-populates the screen with the information I need. This helps me with both speed and accuracy.

Finally, and this is something that I’ve wanted for years, I can click “next case” without having to enter any new information. This might sound like a small detail because saving fifteen or twenty seconds might not sound like a lot of time, over the course of a work week, you're able to read more, you're able to get results out faster. This efficiency is actually one of the key reasons I decided to join vRad.

If you are not familiar with the vRad platform, I highly recommend checking out Dr. Benjamin Strong’s video tour of how it works.

 

Tour the vRad Platform-gif

 

 

INCREASED EFFICIENCY, INCREASED EARNING POTENTIAL

When I’m working more efficiently, I’m a better part of the team. The ER physicians I work with might not notice that I get results of one case to them thirty seconds faster, but it adds up. At the end of a shift or the week, my increased efficiency helps them get to their patients faster. Another thing that adds up is my earnings. I get paid by the study, so if I can do something that makes me 10% faster, that 10% increase in efficiency translates into a 10% raise. I like being in the driver’s seat when it comes to my earning potential.

 

Author Joshua Albrektson, MD

Dr. Joshua Albrektson is a vRad radiologist who lives in South Pasadena with his family and their dog — who you can follow on Instagram.

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