Best MRI wait times here in the region

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Best MRI wait times here in the region

RQHR has the best MRI wait times in the province thanks to the great work of many in Medical Imaging.

“We took a common sense approach to a large issue and were able to solve the problem without extra staffing,” said Micheline Menard, executive director of Medical Imaging. “It wasn’t necessarily a difficult task. We had to take the time to focus on the details while ensuring we adopted appropriate wait time management techniques and applied appropriateness of care principles.”

Doing so led to MRI wait times dropping from 239 days to 114 – a 52 per cent reduction from September 2016 to January 2017.

So, what was this common sense approach and how did it work?

The first step was cleaning up the data, e.g. deleting cases that had already been completed, reviewing long waiting cases with the ordering physicians to ensure they were still required, identifying requests that required follow-up, as they are not part of the wait time criteria.

“We found some patients listed in the queue had already been done and were still showing in the queue, some requests were not categorized properly which led to longer than necessary wait times, she explained. “Some of the data was old, and no longer relevant.”

“Once we cleaned up the data and reprioritized cases, we were able to develop a corrective action plan,” Menard said.  “One of the aspects of wait time management is adopting a first-in / first-out process to ensure those patients waiting the longest are done first. Not adhering to this principle results in queue jumping and that creates a bottleneck,” Menard said.

With the filing system in order and the wait time queue data cleaned up, the next step was to look at the booking process.  “Wait time management in itself is a very complex initiative.  We had to take into account the priority levels, urgent cases, add-ons, working with external community partners and private MRI patients.”

They did this through process improvement, eliminating redundant tasks both internally and with our community partners.

Adopting that discipline of first-in-first-out was instrumental in reducing wait times.

“Before undertaking the MRI wait time initiative, some of the longest wait times were over two years in cardiac and muskoskeletal (MRI Arthrogram) imaging.  The longest MRI wait times are still in the cardiac and arthrography areas because of their specialty,” she said. “However, RQHR has since recruited two cardiac MRI radiologists and more radiologists are available to do arthrography exams.”

The last step in Menard’s data cleanup project was ensuring the region’s appropriateness of care principles were implemented.

“In looking at the list, we challenged physicians to determine if the tests they were requesting were appropriate for the situation, a fundamental principle in the appropriateness strategy,” Menard said.

This entire project required a focused effort over a period of six months. 

“I am very happy with the result and the hard work from my team,” she said. “We are proud that we are hitting our targets in all priority levels as this means better care for our patients.  It’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.”

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