Three PACS Features That Can Help Alleviate Radiologic Technologist Burnout

AUTHOR: David Woodell, Marketing Manager, Enterprise Imaging, FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corporation

Radiologic Technologists (RTs) perform millions of imaging exams annually in the U.S. On a typical day an RT might conduct a dozen or more exams while simultaneously calming patients, assisting physicians, and interacting with various medical software systems. 

As you can imagine, while working in radiology is a rewarding career, it certainly comes with its own set of challenges. I would know, as I was an RT for 5 years at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, NC and I’ve worked with numerous RTs throughout my 23-year career as a medical imaging representative.  I loved being able to impact a patient’s care and comfort, but do acknowledge that the job can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and can easily lead to RT burnout.  

While there are many steps imaging facilities can take to alleviate the drudgery, there’s one in particular that can make a significant impact almost immediately: Choosing the right PACS. 

Think about it; Aside from their patients, what else do RTs potentially spend significant time engaging with? Their PACS! 

Here are three PACS features that can help alleviate RT burnout:

1. Simplified patient and study access

The first step in choosing the right PACS is to make sure the solution  is designed to function like a comprehensive enterprise imaging system; one that promotes the free and secure flow of information across technologies and clinical teams to promote real-time, cross-departmental collaboration. A critical component of PACS technology is a zero download viewer that grants unfettered access to relevant patient and study information to authorized users, regardless of the department in which the data was acquired and independent of user location. Removing the workflow obstacles that impede quality patient care cannot be understated as those setbacks can diminish an RT’s motivation. Fujifilm’s Synapse PACS was engineered to favorably support the intricacies of the RT role.

2. Preparation

RTs can add pertinent documents or notes to studies—conveniently from any approved workstation—to provide information that’s instrumental to each radiologist’s reporting tasks. Additionally, sites can implement a workflow that keeps studies off of radiologist worklists until techs deem the studies ready for interpretation.  This, in turn, reduces unnecessary back and forth communication between RTs and radiologists. Completing all of these tasks with ease and certainty instills confidence that when the baton is passed to radiologists, more-informed reporting is inferred. Championing optimal care for every patient exemplifies a stance shared by Fujifilm and RTs. Tools and flexible workflows in Synapse PACS promote readiness and fluency that can be attributed to recognition of how RTs influence ideal imaging outcomes.

3. Synchronized communication

To deliver quality patient care, RTs and radiologists must work closely together and be in sync. Traditional ways of communicating about a patient’s exam or study may require the RT to seek out the radiologist in the reading room or elsewhere in the facility, causing delays and unnecessary stress. 

Synapse streamlines communication. It features a chat function that allows RTs to communicate with radiologists when images are ready to be reviewed or when a patient is ready for an exam—without ever having to leave the patient. A snapshot can be shared with a radiologist, providing direct access to specific patients, studies, or images, which results in increased turnaround and decreased frustration. Radiologists, too, can voice questions or concerns to the RT in “real time.” 

The old proverb, “No man (person) is an island” comes to mind. Without RTs, the imaging cycle would be incomplete or broken. We all need help—and in the imaging world—the contributions of an RT are crucial. We, Fujifilm, gladly share the responsibility of doing what we can to keep RTs eagerly engaged.

To learn more about how to combat RT burnout, read this article by my Fujifilm colleague, Rob Fabrizio, published in Diagnostic Imaging