Best Practices for Radiology Administrators

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AuntMinnie Semifinalists share their strategies for leading successful radiology departments.

What are the best practices used by effective radiology administrators? Read the strategies shared by three of the AuntMinnie Semifinalists for Most Effective Radiology Administrator/Manager.

Make your strategic goals measurable

Radiology administrators have multiple complex and highly strategic objectives to achieve. These objectives often center on the patient care experience, employee engagement, financial performance, radiology report turnaround times (TAT), and revenue growth.

image of multiple x-ray images in background with 3 images of the AuntMinnie Semifinalists - Ron Jones, Ernesto Cerdena, Jason Dodgion with text in middle "Insights from Effective Radiology Administrators"
Recognized leaders share best practices for effective radiology administration.

And if it’s a goal, it needs to be measured and tracked, advises Dr. Ernesto Cerdena, Corporate Director of Radiology Services at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, NJ. This is true of traditional numbers-based objectives, like increasing revenue, as well as soft but equally impactful goals like improving customer and patient satisfaction.

Ernesto Cerdana – Corporate Director of Radiology Services @ AlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

“Each year, I set defined target and stretch goals for all my key objectives with reporting tools to measure progress against each one,” says Cerdana, PhD, CRA, MS, RT (R) (CV) (CT), FAHRA, FACHE. “It is important to make each objective measureable, whether it is customer experience or growing the volume of outpatient imaging exams.”

Effective radiology administrators communicate often and effectively

“The most challenging part of radiology administration is ensuring that each radiologist and support teammate has an understanding of the practice’s goals, and is passionate about accomplishing them,” emphasizes Jason Dodgion, MBA, and Vice President of Operations at Columbus Radiology in Ohio.“This takes an enormous amount of organization that includes detailed and consistent communication, which is not always easy given the day-to-day grind. But the communication is necessary to demonstrate transparency, which helps in obtaining buy-in toward goals.”

Recently, the imaging department started a new practice-wide monthly newsletter to provide updates across the practice. Having managers and leads provide summary updates in one consistent location makes pulling the information together much easier, says Dodgion. 

Jason Dodgion ,- Vice President of Operations at Columbus Radiology

Ron Jones, System Operations Director of Imaging/COE at St. Luke’s Health System in Twin Falls, Idaho, agrees with the importance of communication – and he urges radiology administrators to remember staff who work outside the day shift.

“Be sure to come to work during off-hours. Visit with your late and evening shifts in person once in a while. Stop by on a Saturday and see how things are going with the team. Otherwise, you may never see certain employees aside from mandatory monthly or quarterly meetings with staff. It is important to be visible and accessible to everyone.”

Another tip for transparency: Jones posts his schedule outside his office door for all to see.

Although Jones strives for transparency, he also understands the need to balance how much information is shared.

“One of the most challenging areas in radiology administration is bridging the gap between what you know as the administrator and what your front line staff knows. Finding a balance that obtains employee buy-in for an action plan without overly sharing the behind-the-scenes information is a fine line,” explains Jones, MSRS, RT (R, CT) ARRT. 

“Share too little, and you won’t get the drive to succeed from staff. Share too much, and you’ve wasted time (which is a very precious commodity) and most likely will incur more questions.”  

Listen to get insights from within

Being an effective radiology administrator also requires ample listening, advises Dodgion. “Listen to your patients, referring clinicians, health system partners, and your practice.  Being available to listen requires a ton of time and patience, but also provides a ton of clarity on what is important for the practice to focus on. Gathering insight from within is your best bet on improving engagement, which is usually a struggle for most practices and companies.” 

Business person holding a sign -"Be an Active Listener"
“Being an effective radiology administrator also requires ample listening” – Jason Dodgion.

Acknowledge and reward – often

Everyone wants to be recognized for doing great work; however, many practices and companies get too busy to provide that recognition, says Dodgion. To keep the practice of recognition front and center, the monthly newsletter at Columbus Radiology includes all the positive comments, testimonials, patient saves, great catches and “kudos” that have come in throughout the month. 

Ron Jones, System Operations Director of Imaging/COE, St. Luke’s Health System.

And of course, food is always a good way to say thank you, adds Jones, who makes it a point to occasionally bring smoothies or cookies, especially when visiting the off-shift staff.

Effective radiology administrators are always innovating

An effective radiology administrator can rarely rest easy, even after a goal has been met. Instead, they need to be alert for new areas of improvement, advises Cerdena. Some will be narrow in focus, such as decreasing report TATs from study order to results finalization. In 2018, the radiology department at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center achieved 3.78 hours with a target goal of 8 hours for all modalities combined.

A much larger, multi-year initiative was implementing a Clinical Decision Support Mechanism (CDSM). The CDSM has helped the hospital achieve its most important objectives: reducing inappropriate utilization of advanced imaging, and increasing patient safety due to less unnecessary radiation dose exposure.

But its impact supports other strategic objectives, like enhancing clinician’s knowledge on ordering imaging studies, identifying cost savings opportunities due to unnecessary tests, improving patient satisfaction, and enhancing physician engagement. “Projects of this scale take a tremendous amount of time and resources, but they have far-reaching impact,” explains Cerdena.

Keep current with industry news

How can radiology administrators stay abreast of new developments in technology?

“My advice is read – everything,” encourages Jones. “There is so much going on in our radiology world, that it would be tough to be effective if you don’t know the current state of our field.”

One of Jones’ best practices is to review the daily articles posted on Aunt Minnie. Better yet, listen to them and other industry articles. Jones uses a text-to-speech app on his phone. “Staying current requires dedicated time. Using the Speak Auto-text feature on my iPhone is a terrific way to pass the time during commutes and exercise.”

Jones also finds value in organizations like the AHRA and ASRT. “They have been instrumental in helping me navigate the break-neck speed of change we see every day in our radiology world.”

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What are your best practices for being an effective radiology manager? Please comment below!

Get more insights from radiology administrators:

Katie Kilfoyle Remis is the editor of Everything Rad and the global manager for Carestream’s social media channels. Contact her at Katie.Remis@carestream.com if you have an idea for a blog.

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  • December 14, 2019
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