Implementing Shared, Standardized Imaging Protocols to Improve Cross-Enterprise Workflow and Quality
Value-based imaging requires appropriate utilization and the delivery of consistently high-quality imaging at an acceptable cost. Challenges include developing standardized imaging protocols, ensuring consistent application by technologists, and monitoring quality. These challenges increase as enterprises grow in geographical extent and complexity through mergers or partnerships. Our imaging enterprise includes a university hospital and clinic system, a large county hospital and healthcare system, and a pediatric hospital and health system. Studies across the three systems are interpreted by one large academic radiology group with expertise in various subspecialties. Our goals were as follows: (1) Standardize imaging protocols; (2) adapt the imaging protocols to specific modalities and available equipment; and (3) disseminate this knowledge across all of the sites of care. Our approach involved three components: (1) facilitation of imaging protocol definition across subspecialty radiologist teams; (2) creation of a database which links the clinical imaging protocols to the scanner/machine specific acquisition protocols; and (3) delivery of a protocol library and updates to all users regardless of location. We successfully instituted a process for the development, implementation, and delivery of standardized imaging protocols in a complex, multi-institutional healthcare system. Key elements for success include (1) a Project Champion who is able to articulate the importance of protocol standardization in improving the quality of patient care, (2) strong, effective modality-specific operational committees, (3) a Project Lead to manage the process efficiently, and (4) an electronic publishing of the protocol database to facilitate ease of access and use.
KeywordsStandardization Imaging protocols Process reengineering
The authors acknowledge the extensive time and effort devoted to this project by the administrative and technical teams at the institutions and a very special thanks to Jon Garinn, Radiology Department Webmaster, for his special efforts related to this project.