Medical Imaging Equipment Training: Best Practices
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How to get the maximum return from training on your medical imaging equipment.
When radiology departments invest in new medical imaging equipment, they want to get the maximum return on their investment. The most effective path for your radiographers to become proficient on your equipment – and use its capabilities to its fullest – is through application training* on your Carestream medical imaging equipment.
Everything Rad asked two of our highly-experienced Applications Consultants who provide on-site education to share their best practices for radiology departments to get the most out of this important training. Read on to get helpful insights from Dana Madewell and David Ruiz.
Training the trainer: the essential role of the Key Operator
Applications Training is modeled on the ‘train the trainer’ philosophy. This empowers a healthcare facility to continue training current and new department staff and physicians after the applications training is over. Carestream calls the trainers “Key Operators.”
Key Operators are very important to the success and implementation of a new system. They will have the responsibility of providing each of your staff members with the system knowledge they need to perform daily tasks.
What makes a good Key Operator?
So how does a facility determine who the Key Operators should be? If you want to run your equipment optimally and to capacity – and who doesn’t? – the Key Operator needs to be someone with day-to-day, hands-on experience using the equipment. In addition, the ideal Key Operator has strong X-ray knowledge, is very computer literate, and is passionate about making sure the equipment functions appropriately not only for staff, but also for patients. Additional characteristics to consider when designating your Key Operators are:
- Knowledgeable about your department protocol
- Familiar with digital capture systems or computers
- Experience in service or presenting educational programs
- Good communication and people skills
- Enthusiasm and initiative toward advances in technology
- Ability to devote quality time to attending applications training, hands-on practice sessions and staff training
- Availability to provide ongoing training and support for your entire staff
Another important best practice is to have multiple Key Operators; ideally three to four. If you have only one, and s/he or someone in their family becomes sick, or they get promoted or leave, your facility is left without a Key Operator. Also, if you are operating a 24-hour facility, you need a Key Operator on every shift. Difficult exams and technical issues are not confined to the hours of the first shift.
Some facilities mistakenly designate their radiology administrator as a Key Operator. However, this is not necessarily the best candidate since some have little to no radiology background. And even experienced radiology administrators might not be available when radiographers have questions during an exam. Also, don’t automatically assume that your senior technologist is the best person. Review their background against the list of characteristics that make a good Key Operator.
After you’ve identified your Key Operators, work with your Carestream Applications Consultant to develop the schedule for training on your medical imaging equipment. In addition to sessions for Key Operators, there will be “Basic User Training” sessions for all your radiographers. Ideally, the Key Operators should attend all these Basic User training sessions. The repetition will help Key Operators understand the applications better. Also, they can hear the questions that staff members pose, and be prepared to answer them after the consultation is over.
3 steps to prepare for Applications Training
In addition to identifying your Key Operators and radiographers who need to attend training, you have a few other tasks to do before Applications Training:
- Define and share with the Application Consultant an updated Procedure Codes Lists, and the lists of technologists’ names that will be used for initial configuration. This information will be used to configure the equipment with codes and users.
- Have your technologists complete the online pre-training provided by the Application Consultant
- Enable complete network readiness to the modality’s Otherwise, your Application Consultant will spend precious training time working with your IT department rather than your radiographers.
Best practices for training day
Although it might be difficult, we highly recommend that facilities have additional staffing in place on training day so that technologists can take turns attending the different sessions, and can devote their full attention to the content while they are there. Without double staffing, people often arrive late to training or leave early, or miss sessions entirely. We have had situations when we reach the final day of training and only one fourth of the staff has been fully trained.
Although the double staffing will increase payroll for the week, you will gain more efficiencies in the long run by having your entire staff fully trained. Our goal is to help you use your Carestream equipment optimally and safely – and that requires in-depth training for key-operators and as many basic users as staffing permits. Today’s medical imaging solutions are sophisticated, and have numerous tools for the customization of workflow and looks – so there is a lot of information and training to cover during the application training sessions.
We also strongly encourage all staff to review the Applications Training checklist before the final training session so that we can revisit areas that are unclear before we leave.
The Application Consulting varies by the product of course, but typically we cover: system components and functionality; system software and workflow; technique and exposure; and detector use and care. We methodically move through a comprehensive Training Skills checklist.
Our goal is to make sure that your radiographers are fully aware of the tools available to them to make their workflow as efficient as possible; and their diagnostic images of the highest quality possible. We work on site with you until you are delivering images that satisfy your radiologists.
Then we go one step further – providing training on available adjustments in technique and exposure for image processing. This is an important step to ensure your success after we leave. We often find that some customers are not aware of all the image processing refinements available to them. It is one thing to train on the product. It is another to be clinically ready. That is where the real magic happens, and we are eager to share our knowledge with our customers.
If there is still time remaining after everyone is fully trained, we will address questions or training needs you have on other Carestream products. We try to make sure that all your Carestream equipment is working optimally. We care about every purchase.
Support after the training ends
Our strongest advice after we leave is for radiographers to clinically implement the training over and over. We recommend that they do the difficult exams, even if initially they feel they are moving slower. It always takes time to adopt change, but in the long run, they will be more efficient than they were previously. We also encourage staff to watch the training videos and complete the “Getting Started” training. Any investment made now in training will payoff fully in time savings later.
We strongly believe that the onsite training is just the beginning of our collaboration. Your radiology staff is welcome to contact us anytime with questions. You are in the business of improving and saving lives. It is essential work and we are here to support you through our medical imaging products and our training. We hope you find these best practices for medical imaging equipment training useful.
This blog is a part of a series on Imaging Equipment ROI. Read the related blogs:
Dana Madewell and David Ruiz are Carestream Application Consultants. Together, they have more than 35 years of experience in diagnostic imaging.
*Applications training is a recommended purchase option.