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Lean management decreases CT acquisition length, saves on exam time

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | May 11, 2021
CT Emergency Medicine X-Ray
Lean management helped decrease CT acquisitions and saved rad technologists hundreds of hours spent performing exams
Emory Healthcare is employing lean management principles to decrease CT acquisition time and save its radiological technologists hundreds of hours in performing exams.

A method for managing and organizing work, lean management aims to improve a company’s performance, particularly the quality and profitability of its production processes. The hospital system found that implementing it brought the number of emergency CT exams completed within two hours up to 71% and saved it six weeks of annualized rad tech time.

“The lessons we learned using these lean management tools may benefit other organizations facing similar challenges,” wrote quality program manager, Dr. Pratik Rachh and his colleagues in their study.

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Advanced imaging volumes in the ED created significant patient throughput challenges for Emory Healthcare.

Forming a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, technologists, administrators and a patient family advisor, the healthcare system implemented several changes and began tracking process metrics around the length of time for CT exams and monthly media turnaround time. A phased rollout over half a year saw turnaround time improve, but only for six weeks. Eliminating inefficiencies, however, caused median turnaround times to fall from between 90 and 109 minutes to 82 and 106 minutes. In addition, rad techs saved roughly 268 hours of annualized time.

Racch attributes the lack of sustainment to staff that went on family and medical leave, and said staffing constraints made it difficult to adjust to surging demand when the ED received an influx of patients.

“Sustaining improvements has been challenging. However, the lessons learned established a collaborative ED and radiology department partnership that continues to work on this complex challenge of optimizing ED CT [turnaround times],” he and his colleagues wrote.

The findings were published in RadioGraphics.

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