Partnering with Engineers to Identify and Empirically Evaluate Delays in Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Laying the Foundations for Quality Improvement and System-based Practice in Radiology

Department of Radiology, University of Michigan, 1515 East Medical Center Drive, 2910 Taubman Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
Academic radiology (Impact Factor: 1.75). 11/2011; 19(1):109-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.acra.2011.09.006
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of partnering with engineering students and critically examining the merit of the problem identification and analyses students generated in identifying sources impeding effective turnaround in a large university department of diagnostic radiology. Turnaround involves the time and activities beginning when a patient enters the magnetic resonance scanner room until the patient leaves, minus the time the scanner is conducting the protocol.
A prospective observational study was conducted, in which four senior undergraduate industrial and operations engineering students interviewed magnetic resonance staff members and observed all shifts. On the basis of 150 hours of observation, the engineering students identified 11 process steps (eg, changing coils). They charted machine use for all shifts, providing a breakdown of turnaround time between appropriate process and non-value-added time. To evaluate the processes occurring in the scanning room, the students used a work-sampling schedule in which a beeper sounded 2.5 times per hour, signaling the technologist to identify which of 11 process steps was occurring. This generated 2147 random observations over a 3-week period.
The breakdown of machine use over 105 individual studies showed that non-value-added time accounted for 62% of turnaround time. Analysis of 2147 random samples of work showed that scanners were empty and waiting for patients 15% of the total time. Analyses showed that poor communication delayed the arrival of patients and that no one had responsibility for communicating when scanning was done.
Engineering students used rigorous study design and sampling methods to conduct interviews and observations. This led to data-driven definition of problems and potential solutions to guide systems-based improvement.

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    ABSTRACT: To better prepare radiology residents for providing care within the context of the larger health care system, this study evaluated the feasibility and impact of a curriculum to enhance radiology residents' understanding and ability to apply concepts from medical management and industrial and operational engineering to systems-based practice problems in radiology practice. A multiprofessional team including radiology, medical education, and industrial and operational engineering professionals collaborated in developing a seven-module curriculum, including didactic lectures, interactive large-group analysis, and small-group discussions with case-based radiology examples, which illustrated real-life management issues and the roles physicians held. Residents and faculty participated in topic selection. Pre- and post-instruction formative assessments were administered, and results were shared with residents during teaching sessions. Attendance and participation in case-based scenario resolutions indicate the feasibility and impact of the interactive curriculum on residents' interest and ability to apply curricular concepts to systems-based practice in radiology. Paired t test analyses (P < .05) and effect sizes showed residents significantly increased their knowledge and ability to apply concepts to systems-based practice issues in radiology. Our iterative curriculum development and implementation process demonstrated need and support for a multiprofessional team approach to teach management and operational engineering concepts. Curriculum topics are congruent with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requirements for systems-based practice. The case-based curriculum using a mixed educational format of didactic lectures and small-group discussion and problem analysis could be adopted for other radiology programs, for both residents and continuing medical education applications.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Academic radiology