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ACCESS: Reducing Wait Times 

Diagnostic Detectives: (3/4) 
Working Together to Reduce Wait Times and Improve Patient Service 
Published on Connect Magazine, Fall 2011
 
“We are often the last step before a final cancer confirmation, so nurses try to reassure patients that they’ll be OK – that the test itself will not hurt. We provide emotional support before, during and after the procedures.” The tests performed by this crackerjack team of investigators are often the key to diagnosis and treatment.

Not surprising then, that more than 410,000 tests are conducted each year at 15 sites within Eastern Health’s Department of Diagnostic Imaging and Interventional Radiology.

Not surprising either, that time is of the essence. In the past year, wait times in diagnostic imaging have significantly improved, particularly in the areas of ultrasounds and CT scans. (See inset to right) “Timely access to health care services is a priority for Eastern Health, and I commend our clerks, technologists, managers and radiologists for their significant efforts on behalf of our patients,” says Dr. Rick Bhatia, Clinical Chief of Diagnostic Imaging and Interventional Radiology.

In the past year, Eastern Health has hired additional radiologists and technologists; the work day for CT scans has doubled, from eight hours to 16 hours, five days per week; and expanded scheduling in ultrasound, together with an improved booking system in both CT and ultrasound, have all resulted in increased efficiency and reduced wait times.

Barry Blackwood is the Regional Manager for X-ray. In his 40 years in Diagnostic Imaging, Barry has seen dramatic changes in technology. A CT scan that used to take 20 minutes now takes 15 seconds. He says advances in equipment are essential to the quality of patient care, but ultimately it’s the staff that makes the difference.

“Today we have more of a blended team with more interaction among the mangers, clerks, technologists and clinical staff,” says Barry. “I try to be as supportive as possible for the sake of the team and ultimately the patients. We all pull together for the good of the patient.” In addition, the provincial government has made a substantial investment in diagnostic imaging in terms of both equipment and human resources in the past year.

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Updated Jan 10, 2012