Employee Engagement and Healthcare Reform

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By Mark Toatley, CRA

Some of the major problems imaging faces within the scope of healthcare reform are changes associated with performing only studies that are deemed necessary, as well as radiation dose reduction and alternative studies to CT. Declining reimbursements and legislative changes are also concerns. This article explores how these changes affect and interact with three themes of employee engagement: focusing on valuing employees, confidence in leadership, and a positive outlook on the future. Where connections exist between areas of reform and engagement, there is potential for a more insightful leadership approach.

There is an evolving argument that a considerable number of imaging procedures performed may be unnecessary. Confidence in leadership may be called into question by staff members when they perceive that there is a continued outcome where these procedures are not being reduced. For example, on call technologists who are repeatedly called in to perform what may be unnecessary procedures may, over time, lose confidence in their leadership. A way to increase engagement with these staff members could involve more communication of efforts to address and explain these components of reform and/or providing a source for feedback with follow up.

In the area of radiation dose reduction and possible CT alternatives, any of the three engagement themes could be applied. Emphasis here looks at a commitment to valuing employees and acknowledging how support, recognition, and development may increase engagement. Often technologists are informed or instructed to focus on aspects of dose reduction with its linear association of improving patient dose. Involving employees on committees, panels, and in meetings related to dose reduction activity and planning presents an opportunity for development and recognition. In instances where technologist ideas are implemented, greater buy-in and commitment can occur.

Thinking about the future of the organization with regards to declining reimbursements and legislative changes can keep imaging leaders up at night. This can have bearing on employee perception of the issues at hand. Employee engagement speaks to the need to feel confident in both the organization’s future and one’s personal future. A leader’s communication with the team, both formally and informally, regarding efforts to take on these challenges helps build trust and adds to a sense of security. Where there are potential barriers, people are more engaged when spoken to honestly than when presented with a company line about any changes.

These three key engagement themes and brief list of healthcare reforms impacting radiology are by no means exhaustive; rather they are an introduction that can be used as a reference approach to employee engagement. The identification of a healthcare reform challenge or other opportunity where a given theme can be applied is in the eye of the beholder.

It is through the combination of communication, involvement, support, and commitment that we can start to move the engagement needle. Healthcare reform is the latest roadway being travelled by imaging, and a positive future outlook, confidence in leadership, and commitment to valuing staff are some of the signs showing the way toward sustained employee engagement.


For more on employee engagement, check out these additional AHRA resources in Radiology Management (you must be logged in to your AHRA website account in order to view):

Improving Satisfaction by Increasing Engagement

Turn Everyday Tasks into Employee Engagement Opportunities

The Power of Engagement: Implementation of a Career Ladder Program

Mark Toatley, CRA is the director of radiology at Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, NC. He can be reached at Tayari7@hotmail.com.

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