Dr Bhawan Paunipagar, Consultant Radiologist & Co-ordinator of Dept of Radiology,Wockhardt Hospital Mumbai Central suggests ways in which radiologists can maintain quality standards in their practice
Quality has become ahot topic in recentyears, the entire medical fraternity is being pressurised by patient advocates and the regulatory bodies to focus on high quality patient care. Many aspects of healthcare quality have been identified that are lacking and that need regular measurement and improvement.
Similarly, radiology as a n important medical discipline is also coming under scrutiny by regulators with all parties questioning the value and effectiveness of practitioners. Therefore, quality is becoming a critical issue for radiology practice in India. Measuring and improving quality is essential not only to ensure optimum effectiveness of care, but to comply with increasing regulatory requirements and to combat current trends leading to commoditisation of radiology services.
A key challenge to implementing quality improvement programmes is to develop methods to collect knowledge related to quality care and to deliver that knowledge to practitioners.
There are many dimensions to quality in radiology that need to be measured, monitored, and improved, including examination appropriateness, procedure protocol, accuracy of interpretation, communication of imaging results, and measuring and monitoring performance improvement in quality, safety and efficiency.
Several important trends are making quality the centre of attention for both radiologists and the parties judging them:
(i) Radiology is becoming more visible and central in healthcare delivery.
(ii) There is an exponential growth in medical imaging, and the threat of radiology becoming a commodity in the era of the Internet and international teleradiology.
(iii) Imaging is increasingly performed by non-radiologists or by radiologists at remote locations who may not have access to the same information as local practitioners.
Hospitals are responding by looking for ways to track quality indicators and deliver vital knowledge to physicians to prevent errors and improve measurement and monitoring of practice efficiency and patient safety.
National Accredition Board for Hospitals (NABH) is one such body that plays a vital role in approving and laying down guidelines to address quality issues.
Current approaches to quality assessment and improvement are costly, time-consuming, and incomplete. The tasks required are voluminous and data-intensive, challenges for people but not for machines. While cost may be a factor hindering adoption of informatic technologies, the lack of education is also important—few radiologists and administrators are aware of the potential of informatics to provide the functionality they need.
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