Using Data to Bootstrap Continuous Operational Improvement

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By Ronald Bucci, PhD, MBA and Vijay Parthasarathy, PhD, MBA

In healthcare practices, there’s increased pressure to deliver exceptional value in service and care, while operating in the most cost-effective ways possible. The goal for any business organization is to balance maximum value of its outputs via the most effective operations – in healthcare, it’s no simple task to achieve this balance, as the output is directly tied to patients’ wellbeing and has great potential to affect many lives.

Across the board, budgets seem to be constantly groomed with a fine tooth comb and essential hospital service lines, including radiology, must bring asset management and operational processes into sharp focus in an effort to achieve the proper balance between care and costs. Operational and capital expenditures make up the two biggest line items on the radiology budget, and thus, there’s a lot of top-down pressure to maximize returns. Due to the continually evolving demand and resources for radiology, performance optimization and improvement need to be part of an ongoing journey, not just a one-time to-do, with the ultimate goal of perpetually improving the return on investment of both capital and personnel assets. Let’s talk about how to start that continuous improvement journey using a data-driven approach:

Operations | First, you’ll need to get a clear picture of how your radiology department is performing by reviewing key metrics to find opportunities for operational improvement in the system, like reducing repeat exams and protocol variation, and improving turnaround times. Access to such insights will better enable radiology leaders to take meaningful action and implement changes that can truly drive efficiencies across the workflow and achieve cost effectiveness.

Capital Assets | It’s equally important to focus on strategic capital asset planning, to ensure you’re not only able to meet current demand, but you’re also primed for growth. Evaluating current demand against availability and utilization of assets, and comparing those insights against forecasted growth, can provide a look at whether a department is under resourced, right-sized, or overloaded with assets. Such an evaluation can help determine whether it’s time to purchase or decommission some equipment in order to right size the department for the long-term.

Creating a more efficient workflow and proper capital asset plans can impact the bottom line, while both also help drive toward enhanced experiences for staff and patients. In order to provide and maintain an enhanced experience internally and externally, these data-driven evaluations must be part of an ongoing process and thus, you must stay vigilant in bootstrapping the data.

Bootstrapping | Bootstrapping is a concept for operational and organizational fitness, popularized by award winning computer visionary Doug Engelbart. Doug evangelized the concept that the key to long-term vitality of an organization lies in its capability to improve itself. In our AHRA Annual Meeting session, we’ll apply this concept to radiology operations and make the case that access to reliable data from several different sources is critical to gain that “bootstrapping” leverage. We will discuss the need for stronger data governance paradigms as well case studies including imaging turnaround times in the emergency departments and data driven capital asset planning process.

To learn more, please join our session, “Using Data to Bootstrap and Stay Strapped Throughout the Continuous Improvement Journey,” on Monday, July 10 from 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM. During the session, you will:

  • Learn how to baseline department performance and bootstrap continuous improvement;
  • Understand data driven methods for strategic capital asset planning; and,
  • Review appropriate measurement metrics and understand how to define KPIs in value-based radiology operations.

Ronald Bucci, PhD, and Vijay Parthasarathy, PhD, are radiology solutions architects at Philips, and can be reached at and

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