5 IT essentials for every radiology practice

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Radiologists must maintain a working relationship with hospital IT colleagues--CIOs, in particular--in order to take full advantage of new technology trends, according to Paul Nagy (pictured), director of quality at the Johns Hopkins University department of radiology.

Nagy, who spoke during an educational session last week at the Radiological Society of North America's annual conference in Chicago, said that technology will only continue to accelerate change, and that leadership and cooperation will be needed to navigate through that change.

"It's amazing how technology changes your beliefs and your behaviors," Nagy said. "I remember when having relevant prior films was a luxury for radiologists. Today, our radiologist demands relevant priors."

Along those same lines, Nagy said that within the next few years, radiologists won't be able to perform full, holistic diagnoses without access to electronic medical records.

"Today, you might not have easy--or any--access to an EMR," he said.

Nagy presented a five-point checklist to assess a radiology practice's capacity for leadership. Among his list of "must-haves" are:

  • A "geeky" radiologist: "Do they have lunch with the IT folks?" Nagy asked. "Techy skills are not enough; build a bridge between clinical and IT folks."
  • A qualified IT staff: "You wouldn't hire an uncertified technologist or nurse, would you?" Nagy asked. "Today, we're so dependent on IT … you can't hire an uncertified PACS administrator."
  • A good relationship with hospital CIOs: "It's very likely the IT people at hospitals don't report to radiology," Nagy said. "If you don't know your CIO, you won't have an impact on your hospital."
  • A good relationship with IT vendors
  • An awareness of emerging technologies

To the latter point, Nagy talked about the impact of increased use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets by medical professionals, saying that radiologists need to be on the same page as referring physicians.

"The key is using technology to improve your productivity," Nagy said. "We're starting to reach a tipping point."

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