The COVID pandemic turned the practice of radiology – and radiology scheduling – on its head. Research published in the British Journal of Radiology notes that chest radiography and CT fueled the diagnosis and triage of COVID patients, but that containment protocols dramatically reduced throughput in hospital radiology departments. But while some radiologists were overwhelmed, others were decidedly underwhelmed. According to a survey about the impacts of COVID on the radiology profession, published in Insights into Imaging, 60% of radiologists reported a workload reduction of more than 50%.
Delve deeper into this bifurcation, and it becomes clear that accuracy in radiology physician scheduling was compromised during the COVID pandemic. While 85% of survey respondents reported working more than 35 hours per week prior to the pandemic, only 60% reported working that much during the pandemic. A major contributing factor was likely the hesitancy of patients to obtain routine screenings and healthcare prior to the development of the COVID vaccine. A JAMA investigation found that 41% of U.S. adults reported forgoing medical care during the initial phase of the pandemic.
The COVID vaccine, along with the troughs of low case numbers between variant spikes, changed the radiology landscape. Radiologists who initially saw patient numbers plummet were suddenly faced with high demand for previously delayed non-urgent care.
While there is widespread recognition of COVID vaccine inequities, public health experts see the U.S. moving from a pandemic to an endemic. Among radiologists, one of the many lessons sure to carry over to the endemic is the need for flexible radiology scheduling. The pandemic caused massive disruptions to imaging schedules and work hours, and those facilities that relied on pen-and-paper or scheduling spreadsheets found that they simply couldn’t keep up. Radiologists were scheduled when they weren’t needed or they weren’t scheduled when they were needed. It was difficult to swap schedules when a radiologist tested positive for the virus, and hard to switch to remote or hybrid schedules. In contrast, radiology physician scheduling software could nimbly accommodate changes in demand, schedule swaps, and ever-evolving on-site and remote shifts.
As COVID becomes endemic, lessons learned from pandemic radiology scheduling challenges will carry over. Key to implementing those lessons is scheduling software that delivers flexibility, visibility, and workflow efficiency.
MDsyncNET’s cloud-based radiology scheduling software delivers four advantages: low set-up fees, simple to learn, a single source of truth, and painless scheduling swaps. Call 888-506-5061 to see how MDsyncNET can help you integrate radiology physician scheduling software into your healthcare system or hospital.