The Effects of Burnout on Imaging Staff – And How Voice Tech Can Help

Burnout is a global health problem affecting physicians across all medical specialties. Radiologists in particular experience high rates of burnout, and this trend has only continued to worsen. Imaging services are under tremendous pressure to respond to growing demand, shrinking budgets, increased administrative workload and staff shortages. Sustained levels of moderate to extreme stress are a threat to imaging staff’s mental and physical health. It can also impact their patients’ experience and increases errors as well.


Findings in recent research by Philips

In May/June 2019 Philips conducted a survey addressing the state of imaging staff experience in four countries by asking, “What is the current state of experience among imaging staff, particularly with regard to driving more patient-centric imaging?” More than 250 radiology technologists (RTs) and imaging directors (IDs) working in the US, France, Germany and the UK were surveyed.

Workload is, by far, the greatest source of stress and burnout for imaging staff. Given that workload will likely only increase, it is paramount to focus both innovation and process improvement efforts on empowering techs to do their jobs with more ease and less stress. While contributing factors vary, the burden of non-patient care activities such as reporting, and compliance documentation continues to increase.

Read about the detailed survey results here.


Automation to reduce admin work

Imaging staff are eager for efficiency gains and believe much of their work could be automated. There is a great opportunity that exists to make their work more streamlined and, presumably, more satisfying.

Automating processes related to patient and staff scheduling, patient preparation, and protocoling would go far toward helping imaging staff harness the power of technology aligning it around their needs, thus leaving more time with patients. Focusing innovation efforts in these areas has great potential to improve workflow and throughput and enhance patient satisfaction.

The need for automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the staff experience for imaging technologists, administrators, radiologists, and collaborating physicians is, at this point, a necessity. AI is continuing to grow and develop, creating inroads into improving workflow efficiency and productivity. Imaging staff using AI can create a hybrid intelligence that could lead to higher diagnostic accuracy and improved safety standards. They could also serve as effective decision support systems, facilitating diagnoses and reducing physician burnout.


Improve team and patient communication

When technologists can’t get the image right the first time, it’s largely because the patient hasn’t been properly prepared or because of missing or inadequate patient information. Such missing information is mostly a combination of lack of communication, data integration, and process engineering that impacts the entire imaging care cycle. Frustration rises when health history or lab results are not available as needed, or when the referring doctor wasn’t clear about the specifics of the exam. Then imaging staff must serve as the stopgap to prevent errors and rectify information gaps in an inefficient system.

A systems view of imaging and focus on optimizing radiology workflows to support staff is an urgent prerequisite for health systems and technology suppliers. Deploying communication tactics to better prepare patients… arming techs with the information they need to get the image right the first time…setting better expectations with referring physicians: these are all processes that can be addressed today without huge technology investments.


Voice tech and ergonomics

Integrated speech-to-text technology is one essential part of improving radiology workflows and system solutions. It allows to record patient notes while analyzing a scan and transfer them into text for accurate and immediate reporting. Dictating information directly into PACS saves a tremendous amount of time and helps imaging professionals reduce documentation time. Patients can often leave with a report right away which helps increase patient satisfaction.

The efficient use of voice technology can also help create healthier work environments including ergonomic work stations and reading rooms. An ergonomic headset allows for hands-free working. When working with a dictation microphone, easy and light one-thumb operation without creating strain over extended periods of time is imperative. Different haptic surfaces and borders help identify buttons and allow to operate the microphone without looking at it. Convenient features like a motion sensor mutes the microphone automatically when the device is idle on a desk and unmutes it when the microphone is picked up again. This avoids unintentional recordings and button presses. Advanced ergonomics are therefore an important factor when it comes to choosing a microphone.


With many technology solutions available to actively help reduce radiology burnout, it is of utmost importance to ensure that the right people are feeling heard. Empowering the people behind the image and supporting staff will create positive change in the imaging environment.


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