Patients at the Skåne University Hospital in Malmoe, Sweden, are aware that the wait time for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations is now considerably shorter than several months ago. And the head of radiology, Professor Lars Bååth, MD, is happy that his employees can potentially examine up to eight more patients per day..
A team of Siemens consultants played a major role in this success story. They examined the reasons for the long wait times, the strinkingly long examination times, and the high backlog. Within five days, the team determined the number of daily MRI scans taken with the hospital’s MAGNETOM® Symphony Tim system as well as the time required for each examination, and interviewed the physicians responsible as well as the radiological technicians. They also observed the planning of the examinations and patient preparation. Also, the data from Siemens Utilization Management were analyzed and compared with the best practice data of hospitals in Sweden, Great Britain, and Germany.
What the consultants proposed to the Skåne team turned out to be both simply and effective: Prepare patients for the examination outside the examination room and improve cooperation with referring physicians. Reduce the average protocol duration per patient to 20 minutes, bundle similar examinations, and reduce the number of staff involved in scheduling and examination planning. And finally, extend the operating time of the system to late afternoon and also use the lunch hour for less complex examinations.
The results: As compared to previous numbers, it is now possible to examine up to eight additional patients each day at the Skåne University Hospital. This will eliminate the backlog within a short time. To maintain or even increase the utilization rate, the team meets on a regular basis to discuss and improve the processes. “We have previously employed several other consulting companies to identify room for improvement in the radiology department, with mixed results,” says Bååth, who is full of praise for the Siemens consultants. “One problem was that they weren't prepared for the complexity of healthcare environments. Siemens had the right experience and demonstrated deep understanding to deliver what we asked for and make feasible improvement proposals easy to implement. Siemens also used benchmarking, which made the results much more useful.”
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The outcomes achieved by the Siemens customers described herein were achieved in the customer's unique setting. Since there is no "typical" hospital and many variables exist (e.g. hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption) there can be no guarantee that others will achieve the same results.