Radiology staff across the US, UK, Germany and France are reporting high levels of burnout and stress, having to use inefficient technology and manage increasing workloads, according to a new study from Philips.
Carried out on behalf of the Dutch health technology giant by The MarkeTech Group, it sought to identify the challenges facing radiology technologists and imaging directors, with over 250 surveyed between May and June this year.
“There is no sugar-coating these results,” Philips said, as 97% of technologists working in Germany reported moderate or severe levels of job stress, 54% in the UK, 44% in the US and 40% in France.
In the US, the findings show that imaging directors were underestimating the burnout felt by technologists, pointing to a “communication gap” between staff and management, according to the report.
“Thirty-six percent of US techs report moderate to high burnout, but IDs [imaging directors] appraise only 17% of techs feeling burned out to that extent,” the researchers noted.
Futhermore, around 40% of respondents said they believed their workload was higher than average in comparison with similar organisations.
“There’s no mystery behind the workload crunch in imaging,” Philips said. “While contributing factors vary across geographies (lack of budget, lack of training programs, competition for talent), the mandate to “do more with less” is a constant. Additionally, the burden of non-patient care activities such as reporting and compliance documentation continues to increase.”
Issues around staff scheduling, communication, information flow and the lack of appreciation were identified as some of the other factors increasing pressure, while imaging staff said they believed that nearly a quarter of their work could be automated.
“Automating processes related to patient and staff scheduling, patient preparation, protocoling and protocol selection, pre-exam planning (e.g., contraindications and implants), patient positioning, image analysis and post-processing, and readying results to be sent to PACS would go far toward helping imaging staff spend less time with technology and more time with patients,” the researchers said.
“Focusing innovation efforts in these areas has great potential to improve workflow and throughput, enhance patient satisfaction, and decrease staff stress and burnout.”
But although staff were clear on what the causes of inefficiency in their organisations were, in France and the UK, around 65% and 60%, respectively, of professionals felt only somewhat or not at all empowered to instigate change.
ON THE RECORD
Commenting on the study, Kees Wesdorp, general manager for diagnostic imaging at Philips, said: “The subject of burnout is a major topic of discussion in radiology, but there has not been sufficient focus on understanding the specific challenges faced by radiology technologists and imaging directors.
“These critical stakeholders have a direct responsibility for image acquisition and quality, operations, and patient care. As we develop imaging solutions that advance radiology through improved workflow and efficiency, data integration and AI, it’s important that we support radiology staff to provide the best to care to each patient.”
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