4 ways tech, analytics can improve radiology quality and efficiency

Radiologist Paul Chang (pictured) says the medical imaging industry could learn a lot from today's youth when it comes to collaboration and multitasking. At a plenary session yesterday afternoon at the Radiological Society of North America's annual conference in Chicago, Chang said that radiology currently is stuck in a Web 1.0 model that's dominated by silos.

"My kids have 20 ways to talk to each other, and they can articulate ... why each one of them is important," said Chang, professor and vice-Chairman of radiology informatics and medical director of pathology informatics at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

"But as a radiologist, all I have is the report and the phone call. There are too many static reports in healthcare."

Chang said that the biggest challenge for radiologists today is making sure they are irreplaceable--not only to consumers, but also to fellow clinicians. Learning how to take advantage of technology in a meaningful way that demands accountability for positive results will be a big part of that, he added.

"Value is the function of quality, efficiency and safety," Chang said. "We need to optimize all three equally and simultaneously--and I see no other way of doing this than IT."

To that end, Chang outlined four areas in which IT can boost the radiology industry:

  • Advanced workflow to support enterprise-wide value.
  • Comprehensive collaboration: "We've moved to more of a message-in-a-bottle model that's weak and inefficient," Chang said.
  • Business intelligence and analytics: "We're about 10 years behind every other business vertical" with regard to using BI and analytics, Chang said.
  • Connecting with the health consumer.

For the latter, Chang said, radiologists must embrace the concept of being constantly available--at least virtually.

"Consumers discriminate and have a choice today," he said. "They have rapidly established expectations for quality. We want to embrace meaningful innovation where, whatever we do, it propagates upstream and downstream to everyone. That's how you become irreplaceable."