Garry Carneal, JD, MA, RadSite President & CEO

Recently, I attended an Executive Leadership workshop in conjunction with the annual meeting of the AHRA, the Association for Medical Imaging Management, in Denver, CO. During the four-hour session, I was reminded how strong senior leadership can dramatically impact the quality of patient care and promote better clinical outcomes.

During the course, taught by David Waldron, CEO of Traction Business Development, dozens of ideas were shared which showcased the correlation between leadership and quality. He began by quoting Colin Powell:  “Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centric.”

Waldron elaborated that leadership needs to focus not only the staff of the imaging center but also the patient. He cited one mission statement that establishes this point: “Our mission is to deliver the highest quality diagnostic imaging services to our referring physicians while providing an exceptional patient experience, generating the required economic value for our stakeholders and investing in the development of our staff.”

During several breakouts, my subgroup shared ideas and thoughts about what good leadership entails. When interacting with staff, examples included being present, active listening, mentoring, building trust, coaching, measuring satisfaction and much more.

What became clear to me during the course is that imaging providers, along with any business setting, need to create an “emotionally intelligent” workplace to best serve the patients. This translates into better patient transactions, including communicating to the patient, stopping potential medical errors, and ensuring better diagnostic evaluations – among other benefits.

A goal therefore is to move beyond regulatory requirements, accreditation standards and other protocols in a way that really activates the imaging staff. This starts at the top with the medical director but also includes every staff member who is part of the imaging team.

Although understanding how the imaging equipment works and following appropriate clinical pathways are important, another key ingredient is engaged staff which can help optimize the patient experience.  This in turn should yield better outcomes for the imaging center.

As Waldron pointed out towards the end of his session, staff members and patients need to be respected and appreciated. Although written policies, job descriptions, and good training all are important, the icing on the cake is creating a workplace where ideas and thought can be shared to promote quality. As Waldron noted, “You don’t change culture through emails and memos. You change it through relationships, one conversation at a time.”

Positive energy can go a long way. As Waldron reminded us during the course, have fun on the job. It can make all the difference in the world.

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