By: Kim Evans, Vice President of Imaging, ChristianaCare
Pillar #3: Training and Advising
The field of medical imaging brings vast educational opportunities for all members of the team, both staff and leaders alike. Continuing education is not only required but necessary to remaining current. We are incredibly fortunate to have many resources in our professional societies, the AHRA, our local and internal resource experts, our radiologists and physician teams, and our vendor partners. As imaging leaders seek to develop deeper relationships with vendor partners, ongoing support and communication bi-directionally remain an essential foundation. The assets described in Pillar #1 of our Value Model, and the staffing management included in Pillar #2 come together and collate into the third pillar of value, training, and advising.
In my experience, I have found that we tend to utilize our equipment and products in the very same way we have used the equipment and products (even prior iterations) for years. We can be slow to adopt and sustain newer technology and features that could improve efficiency, such as faster acquisition and/or quality of the images because of lack of familiarity and a predisposition towards the comfortable. Vendor partners carry the deepest of knowledge on the basic and advanced functionality of the equipment, software, products, and services that they provide. That information is essential to ensure competency even after the initial purchase as end-users strive to utilize a product to its fullest capability. As the journey to continuous improvement, the journey to ongoing competency is a challenge that is often overlooked but carries tremendous potential for improved efficiency and even outcomes. In my organization, we have identified Strategic Partnerships as a vital component in achieving our mission as we work together to help our community achieve optimal health. The same holds for advancing value within imaging.
MAXIMIZING FUNCTIONALITY OF ASSETS: LEARNING FROM OUR VENDOR PARTNERS
Forging a vital partnership will depend on the ability to be transparent and have an open dialogue about the current state. The initiation of this conversation belongs to the Imaging leader. Regular discussions should address the following: How are we using the product or service (operationalizing)? What does the existing platform of the product provide? And what are the capabilities compared to how the product is currently being used? Radiologists, who are key stakeholders, should participate in this conversation regarding ongoing training and advisement. Whether in person or today’s virtual environment, offering regular demonstrations on the product features and effectiveness provides vital knowledge. This helps our Radiologists understand how the product can help bring further benefit to patients and referring colleagues for improved care. Additionally, the radiologists as clinical experts are essential in the approval process when seeking standardization and protocol management. The reminders of the benefits and ultimate implementation of the features upon which a purchasing decision has been made can drive the purchase and vendor relationship’s long-term value. Everyone wins.
Formalized applications are often initial or short-term training plans with additional sessions for purchase to meet specific needs. However, the need for training is much more than applications. Product competency goes beyond initial understanding to tangible and practical ways to improve the daily work using the products or services. It’s the “hands-on… how to…” Staff technologists must be regularly instructed in product capability and solutions at their disposal. The reality is that there are times when a technologist needs to exercise creativity and draw on the toolkit to obtain high diagnostic quality in challenging imaging exams. Staff turnover also contributes to the need for ongoing training. Full competency provides additional resources in the toolkit upon which to draw. Modality leads will play a vital role in providing communication to bridge the staff’s operational needs and the utilization of the product. Within organizations today, new platforms, new equipment, and new protocols carry new expectations. A train-the-trainer type program often delivers these features. While that has some utility, it may not be inclusive of underutilized specific product features. This may render departments in the same place, doing the same thing, in the same way, perhaps only with shinier new toys. Imaging leaders have access to more information than they realize in their trusted vendor partners. Ongoing dialogue and check-in sessions offer an opportunity for these open conversations on equipment use, service, or product. It is a great place to begin. The transaction does not end when the purchase order is signed, nor should it. I have found that true vendor partners are more than willing to help move our teams forward to full competency.
INDUSTRY ADVISEMENT: LEARNING FROM OUR VENDOR PARTNERS
As a result of COVID-19, this past year has been a challenge in many ways, but especially for Imaging leaders to see and Vendor Partners who share our industry’s evolving face. While annual conferences and open exhibit spaces were conducted virtually, it was quite different from the ability to peruse new technology, listen to future state presentations, and have hands-on opportunities to see and touch the equipment. Imaging leaders gain valuable insight into technology’s future and glimpse a vision of what is in store through our vendor partners’ knowledge and expertise. I have found success in conversations about the technology and workflow, reimbursement, and overall direction of the industry. Many of our vendors have massive research and development teams worldwide and can share and advise us on future planning opportunities. There is inspiration and promise when we catch a glimpse of what is in store and begin to dream of the impact.
Imaging leaders can depend upon ongoing support and guidance from vendor partners for training the imaging team on best practice utilization of an asset, product, or service. Vendor partners are a wealth of information and are the key to maximizing the use of valuable assets and resources in medical imaging. They are the experts upon whom imaging leaders and their teams should rely. This comes not only by an ongoing competency and training program that can be offered using many methods and channels such as virtual class, web-ex, directed readings, on-site sessions, hands-on workshops, etc. but also beyond industry advisement. How is the technology evolving? What is expected to happen in the industry? How will my assets be affected by the industry evolution over the life cycle? Improving utilization, efficiency and outcomes will benefit everyone. These expert partners can guide their Imaging leader counterparts as technology pushes the boundary to a new horizon where care and products are improved, costs are controlled, and value increases.
As an added summary to each article in our Value Model series, we will close with practical tips that you should consider if you’d like to put these ideas into immediate action. We call this section the ‘Vendor Connection.’
By: Martin Silverman, Vice President & General Manager, Northeast Zone, Siemens Healthineers
Education and training are indeed the backbones of patient care. Your ability to provide the best possible care is dependent on your technical and clinical knowledge and skill development. And when you know more, you have the tools you need to improve proficiency and support clinical outcomes. This work is essential to a provider’s success and why we strongly encourage organizations to look for training and education partners who can ensure education is ongoing, tailored to their needs, and customized to their organization.
We believe it is our responsibility to thoroughly understand your goals, provide expert advice, and meet your staff wherever they are on their educational journeys. Some areas to consider:
1. ONGOING EDUCATION OVERTIME IS KEY TO OPTIMIZING PERFORMANCE. To ensure high levels of competency and performance over the life of your equipment, you’ll need ongoing training—especially as technology and care standards evolve. Establish a standard deck of competency across your organization and use data to identify and address critical areas for improvement. Be sure to account for your workforce’s evolution and have a strategy to integrate new employees and equipment into existing operations seamlessly. Remember, vendors want you to maximize the use of their products. Ask them to help identify specific training needs.
2. COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING FOR ALL IS ESSENTIAL
In addition to applications training, be sure the entire team—from technologists to radiologists have the training they need to feel confident in the technology. Be sure to include skills-based training for individual contributors, current and future managers, and organizational leaders. Comprehensive training for all personnel is necessary to maximize performance, drive care quality, and attain a significant return on your investment—both in equipment and education.
3. THE FUTURE IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK. KEEP AN EYE TOWARD IT
Vendors tend to present their innovations, which may not be part of your clinical routine today but reveal tomorrow’s opportunities. Ask your vendor partner to benchmark your training and education relative to similar organizations. This can help ensure your training includes not only innovations but also necessary foundational elements. You’ll learn how your organization compares and, if there are gaps in your training and education, what you can do to optimize day-to-day operations and create a solid foundation for the future.
4. MEET YOUR STAFF MEMBERS WHERE THEY ARE
When it comes to training, a meaningful solution should not only bridge an education gap but do so in a way that engages individual learners and motivates them to grow. The most effective learning experiences are personalized, flexible, and easily adapted to your workforce’s changing needs and knowledge levels. That way, you have education tailored to your institution’s needs while sustainably empowering your staff and your organization.
5. REMEMBER YOUR BIGGER “WHY”
Effective training programs offer an educational journey that will yield positive results for your people, your business, and, most importantly – your patients. Help staff connect to the purpose of their training and the bigger picture of what’s possible for their patients. Remember to continually measure, assess, and improve your training and education. Education is the gateway to growth and essential for patient care.
Asset Management, Productivity, Training and Advising, Information Source, Staffing, Competition
The IIC ‘s Mission: To advance the field of medical imaging and progress healthcare through collaboration characterized by thought leadership and accessible outcomes. Meet the IIC Members.