The RecoveryJul 29, 2021
So, I recently came across this article published in July in the JAMA Health Forum, talking about a significant decline in preventive services during Covid. This seems to have especially affected women with breast and cervical cancer screenings where they saw a decline in approximately 60 to 90% of women’s cancer screening when compared with 2019. Apparently, it was a pretty large study looking at over 600,000 patients in Michigan between ages of 18 to 74. When they were analyzing the monthly data, the biggest decline was in the spring of 2020, with the lowest point in April. However by July, it seemed as though the volume recovered close to pre-pandemic levels. So although we could see a relative bump in primary cancers in this population because of the drop in screenings, I am trying to find some silver linings in this post Covid world. I think many offices and hospitals were hit over the head with a whole bunch of media and government scaremongering. The theme was “cancel everything and stay home”. That’s easy for a politician or young healthy journalist to say, but cancer all of a sudden doesn’t go away just because of a pandemic. A pandemic with a greater than 99% survival rate in most populations! Anyway, this general approach didn’t sit well at many institutions and allowed us and others to figure out a way to screen these women in a safe way, which eventually did happen.
Now for my preaching. When you let people come up with solutions to their own problems, rather than look to some sort of authority to tell you what to do, they always do a much better job than a generic top down approach. You have probably heard this statement before, “if all you have is a hammer in your tool shed, then every problem starts looking more and more like a nail”, and the authorities start applying this to everyone and every situation. To wit, I know for sure that we bounced back pretty quickly in our ability to see patients and get them scheduled for their preventive medical care and in particular, get them into radiology for their routine follow-up studies. Emergency patients were always able to be scanned, but I had particular fears that our cancer patients were being overlooked and were missing timely follow-ups due to Covid fears. Anyway because we were smart enough to think outside the box and come up with our own ways to figuring out how to handle the myriad of problems we were suddenly faced with, we became a nimble and more adaptable group. The department managers, directors and medical staff all got together and problem solved a whole bunch of issues. Pretty quickly, we had patients calling us and texting us from the parking lot, letting us know that they were outside and ready. We were doing outdoor check-in‘s and getting these patients through radiology so quickly, it defied our expectations. All of a sudden we had open slots where we could schedule more patients. We extended our hours to see patients later in the evenings and on weekends to get these really important patients into the office and the tests they needed. So my personal experience and the experience within my medical group basically mimics the theme discussed in the article. The bounce back was pretty quick once the people on the ground got together and figured out a safe way to do things. We are talking safe for the staff, safe for the medical providers and of course, safe for the patients. So, if anything, this article and the experience in my own little medical care pod, tells me that people need to be left alone to come up with their own solutions. For the most part, the results will always be better than some top down approach that’s dictated to you with an authoritarian mindset of “you have to do it this way”. Over the past year and a half, we have all reached out to our colleagues and talked to them about how they problem solved certain things and we’ve adopted the things we liked and thrown out the things we didn’t like. We tried some new ideas and if they worked well, kept them in place; and we tried some things that didn’t work and threw them away quickly. We utilized an individualized and thoughtful approach and mixed that with a healthy amount of good old fashioned trial and error. We made changes based on feedback and on the fly. We were able to adapt in a very fluid manner to everything that came up, to the Covid issues and all the new downstream resulting difficulties for the past year. Waiting for an authoritarian to give you a magical prescription is a utopian dream which never works.
Anyway, our ability to adapt and recover was something that I found pretty remarkable, and this enabled to get our volume in radiology back to 2019 levels very quickly. I am also especially proud of our primary care docs, who were hit pretty hard with during these times, and who very quickly rolled out software and hardware to tons of providers to deliver telemedicine video visits for thousands of patients. This helped keep patients in a “comfort zone” within our practice and made them feel like they weren’t forgotten and were still a valuable part of our community. Almost immediately, we moved from seeing patients in the office to seeing patients in their own living room and we’ve gotten so many reports back from patients that they really appreciated the efforts we went through to make them feel like they were connected to a medical system that cared. It was a success no matter how you looked at it. I am happy to be part of such a dynamic system and work with so many caring and thoughtful medical professionals.
So how does all this relate to what I am trying to do for technologists? Good question. Well I went ahead and spoke with all the best senior level CT technologists I could find and selected a bunch of critical strategies and tricks that they have acquired throughout their career. These are the skills that have enabled them to rise to the status of where they are today, at the lead level or senior tech/supervisor level. We are talking about the types of Techs here that make your day as a radiologist easy and provide the absolute best patient care possible. These are the Techs that ALL radiologists want to work with, whether they admit it or not. So anyway, YES, I have distilled all this information and put it into a course for you wonderful, new and/or struggling Techs out there, and I have gotten approval from the ASRT for 1.5 category A continuing education credits for this this training. It’s called the Patient Communication Course and I know it’s going to bring you tons of value and shave off years of “on the job” training. When you get a chance, please go to www.SpeakToPatients.com and take a look at everything the course has to offer.
Now if for some reason, you’re not ready to learn these invaluable skills in a paid course which will elevate your status and give you CEU’s, well then I do have a 100% FREE course available that you can try out. This free training will put you on the road to becoming one of the most desirable technologists to work with at your institution. Get instant access to this FREE course by going to www.CTSuperTech.com.
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