The new working model in radiology

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COVID-19 has drastically changed the way radiologists work – and it is likely that most of these alterations will persist once the pandemic is better under control. In fact, radiologists can potentially expect a hybrid working model.

In an opinion piece published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, industry experts Robert M. Kwee, MD, Ph.D., from Zuyderland Medical Center, and Thomas C. Kwee, MD, Ph.D., from the University of Groningen, both in the Netherlands, explained how the benefits of remote working might linger.

“Teleworking is a strategy to give radiologists more autonomy and freedom. We believe this can improve morale, reduce the risk of burnout and improve the performance of radiologists, ”they said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many radiologists to permanently change their work habits, as have office workers around the world. “

The ups and downs

In addition to protecting providers and patients from viral infections, working from home has had obvious benefits for the radiologist – but the positives came with the negatives.

On the positive side, teleworking:

  • Reduces travel time
  • Facilitates a better work-life balance
  • Offers environmental benefits, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions

However, the downsides include:

  • Increased isolation and depersonalization
  • Blurred lines between personal time and working time, leading to meetings outside of working hours
  • More exhaustion from working longer than usual

Hybrid operation

The sweet spot for maximizing the benefits of working from home could be a hybrid work model, they said. An alternating and hybrid schedule could be an effective way to maintain a good work-life balance.

“More than half of employees would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week once concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided,” they said. “We believe that a hybrid working style can be adopted by many radiology departments as well, provided they can ensure that an appropriate number of radiologists are on site to perform the necessary practical procedures and perform the necessary procedures. patient consultations. “

For this to work, providers would have to work remotely for three days, coming to the office for two. In addition, facilities should ensure that there are enough providers to perform practical procedures and consultations with patients, as well as for teaching and supervision.

The technical requirements

But, to make a home workstation as efficient and compliant as possible, radiologists need to ensure that they meet minimum standards.

At home, radiologists must:

  • Meet the technical requirements of PACS and diagnostic monitor identical to those of their hospital
  • Have at least a 5 megapixel monitor for the interpretation of the mammogram
  • Optimize ergonomics, lighting, temperature and noise level to avoid fatigue and maximize reading accuracy and efficiency
  • Establish a telephone proxy service for better communication with patients and referral providers
  • Set up a webcam and teleconferencing software for virtual conferences
  • Fast and secure home network speed

Overall, they said, this kind of working model could redefine the future of radiology practice.

“This new paradigm of work can increase the efficiency and job satisfaction of radiologists,” they said. “There are potential drawbacks, including the risk of reduced social contact. Nonetheless, we believe they are outweighed by the benefits and potential for improvement.

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