TMC audit confirms: quality is job one

At TMC, quality is job one.

That’s why we took the decision in 2015 to start working with external auditors to independently assess the quality of our radiology reporting services. Since then, as part of our quality improvement cycle, we have arranged regular audits in each section providing us with regular and valuable feedback on how well we are delivering our service.

 It is vital that our customers have complete confidence in the level of service and accuracy of our reporting. After all, lives may depend on it. That’s why we asked a team of highly regarded and independent external auditors, all leading experts in their fields, to review our services and to let us know how well we are doing against our own high standards.

 We’ve been working with independent experts such as Dr. Donald Collie, of Expert Radiology Ltd., who has recently completed his annual TMC audit for Neuro (UK) which had particular focus on clinical accuracy and language.

Dr. Collie said: “Our report recognised TMC’s commitment to remaining “ahead of the curve” in developing tools to improve reporting quality. It also noted the adoption of standardized reporting templates as innovative and progressing on the path to increased electronic integration and artificial intelligence. The report also said that the two TMC templates assessed in the audit are “comprehensive” and will “help to reduce discrepancies from typographic errors, omissions and interobserver variability.”

“These templates are likely to be widely adopted across radiology and we suggested some enhancements to the format of the conclusion section, which would improve communication of radiological findings. The audit summary and details are shared with radiologists across TMC to make sure that all learnings are captured and to confirm that each section is delivering against its own high quality standards.

For businesses like TMC, trust is vital and quality analysis can have a significant impact on patient outcomes. This audit tested our rigorous approach and will continue to build confidence in our methodology. Delivering quality and consistency is TMC’s most important goal and we’re delighted this review has endorsed our approach, especially since it was conducted independently by some of the most important and respected names in our profession.

TMC and Unilabs: building an exciting future together

As we recently announced, TMC has a new owner. Unilabs Pathologie SA, Geneva, Switzerland, purchased all TMC’s shares at the end of last year, giving us an even bigger opportunity to continue delivering against TMC’s core purpose: to bring quality healthcare to all people.

We can now do this on an even larger scale and together we will create the first truly integrated digital diagnostic company combining radiology, pathology and, in the future, genomic solutions. In the shorter term, the fact that we will have more doctors in our teams means that we can start to offer more flexible solutions, including increased access to day time emergency reporting services. Everyone will win from this new relationship. Our clients will get better services, our patients will get better outcomes and our colleagues will continue to operate within a company culture where talented people want to come to build their careers. 

Unilabs is one of Europe’s largest diagnostic service providers, active in Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom. It also runs laboratories in Dubai and Peru and while its main activity is laboratory testing, it has a strong and growing reputation in radiology, histopathology, drug development and clinical trials. It has recently added genomics to its portfolio

So why this deal between our two businesses?

Unilabs recognised that TMC has an outstanding quality assurance system, a high degree of sub-specialization and a strong reputation. Its leadership was particularly impressed by TMC’s achievements in these areas and wanted to use our skills and experience to transform these capabilities within the wider Unilabs organisation.

In the mid-to-long term, we believe that by being part of a larger organisation we can create a leading integrated diagnostic company with strong, interconnected services in radiology, pathology, labs and genomics, including advanced computer-aided diagnostics and artificial intelligence applications. This means we should be able to provide an even better service to our clients and patients.

On behalf of everybody at TMC, I’d like to thank you for your loyalty and support over the years. We remain committed to delivering unrivalled quality and we are grateful for all the positive reactions we have had from all our stakeholders to this news. We are looking forward to working with you, alongside our Unilab colleagues, as we build an exciting future for us all.

Best wishes

Alexander Boehmcker, CEO

 

Personal development: 150 books to make you a better person

It is fair to say that one of the defining characteristics of many radiologists is the desire for self-improvement. Radiology is a profession that demands constant learning and development to deliver the best possible results.

What of personal development outside the medical or scientific sphere, though? If you are interested in books that can help you be a better person generally, there are plenty of self-help volumes to choose from.

For the best of the lot, you could do worse than browse through the more than 150 titles chosen by experts for the website Self Development Secrets.

The list of recommendations, headed by the evergreen self-improvement bible ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, is bound to help you on your path to a better life… even if your immediate goal is just to find a few stocking fillers for Christmas.

TMC’s Hakan Jonsson plants flag on South Pole after epic adventure

Hakan Jonsson has ice in his veins: there can be no doubt of that.

We’ve been following TMC’s very own extreme athlete over the last year as he prepared for one of the toughest races on earth. TMC was proud to support him on his journey, helping him to raise funds for Kids Reach 5, a charity that he passionately supports as it tries to get young children under five back into school in the townships of South Africa.

We’re delighted to report that Hakan has now achieved his fundraising goal through this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Heartbeat caught up with him to find out how it feels to beat the odds at the bottom of the world. Here is an account of the last leg of his amazing journey.

We left Sweden on the 19th of November, by plane from Kastrup to Madrid and then on to Santiago de Chile and Punta Arenas in southern Chile. By November 21st it was time to board the big Russian military plane which would transport us to Union Glacier. The camp was located at almost the same elevation as the geographical South Pole, so now we were officially as far south as you can possibly come.

Even getting our boarding passes for the flight to Antarctica was an awesome feeling. When we got there, the trip to Union Glacier took about four hours. The few steps down to the cold, blue ice were truly surreal. We were greeted by an amazing view of an immense white landscape with only the occasional mountain top breaking the horizon’s solid line. Icy winds pushed us around mercilessly and we had to tread carefully not to slip and fall before our transport, a tracked vehicle that could more easily manoeuvre on the ice, continued.

Because of the heavy winds we were told at around 10am that we would be running by noon, November 24th. The weather forced the organisers to rearrange the lap route, resulting in a four-lap race with a shorter track distance instead of the planned two-lap race. By this point, everything became a rush, changing into the proper clothes and equipment and making all our other preparations. When the race finally began, it was truly amazing.

The first lap went smoothly on the fresh track, but after running about 15km my expedition partner Andreas got a cramp in his calf, which marked the beginning of our problems. At times, we needed to stop completely, or walk instead of running, which just made the cold bite even harder through our layers of clothing. Between laps 2 and 3 we even took a break inside the heat tent to regain some warmth before continuing the race. This pit stop might have lasted almost 30 minutes.

Despite the poor conditions, we pushed on to the finish. Because of the harsh weather, low temperature and fairly regular walking periods, our total race time was not impressive. Around seven hours after we started, we crossed the finish line with the temperature at minus 25ºC, and wind to boot. We were among 53 runners in the marathon and six runners in the half-marathon.

At the start of this adventure, we only had one clearly defined goal: to complete the race and enjoy the experience while it lasted. We did our best, but the last laps in particular were made more difficult by the snow build-up, forcing us to wade through the drifts and battling the constant winds. But all the hard work, training and sacrifice were worth it. As of today, we have collected more than 150,000 SEK to benefit our campaign and, as you can imagine, we met a really interesting group of people along the way

This race is not for everyone. We were a striking gathering of oddballs from all over the globe, including a group of American marines who ran together with the widow of a fallen soldier for the benefit of veterans’ rehabilitating programmes. There were also two runners who completed the Grand Slam, meaning they had run a marathon on the North Pole and were members of the Seven Continents Marathon Club.

Without a doubt, the biggest experience of the journey was passing the finish line. I carried the Swedish flag and Andreas carried another flag emblazoned with the words: ‘TO FIGHT CHILD MORTALITY.’

We had finally done what we had lived, breathed, prepared for and even partially feared for the last two and a half years. It was a feeling of indescribable happiness and joy. We had done something not many had before us. Never in my life have I felt so I proud of myself, or of what we had accomplished together. I feel privileged to, through my running, be a part of something bigger than myself; an important work that tries to create better conditions for children and young mothers to help them gain the opportunity for a better, longer life.

All of our collected money is being invested to the international aid work of the Swedish Church, specifically the Philani project in the townships of Cape Town. Philani was founded by Swedish Dr Ingrid Le Roux and its work with mentor moms is making a huge difference to the most vulnerable children.

We’d like to thank everyone who supported us, including TMC, which was with us right from the beginning of this extraordinary adventure.

Now we look forward to new challenges. My current goal is to run a marathon on the roof of the world, Tibet, by September this year. I plan on topping it off by running on the North Pole and finally get the Grand Slam medallion myself.

 

Interactive Radiology Sessions go “bi-weekly” for radiology departments and individuals

We’re delighted at the continued success of TMC Academy’s highly regarded Interactive Radiology Sessions and are pleased to announce that these ”live” webinars are now being conducted bi-weekly with some of the profession’s most highly regarded sub-specialist radiologists leading the courses. We’ve been running these sessions for a couple of years now after holding individual sessions with Hudiksvall hospital in Sweden. This made us think about how we could make them available to a wider audience and we’ve been constantly listening to our participants and used their honest feedback to evolve and refine our approach.

So, while these sessions were predominantly designed for hospital departments to get collective training in an easy and time efficient manner, the sessions have been adapted so that individual radiologists can now enjoy the same experience from the comfort of their own homes.

This also reduces time away for the individual radiologists, who can join by simply registering for a full year (22 courses) at a time for only 300 euros. The courses now take place every other Thursday at 11:00 CET (there is a short set-up time, 50 minutes lecture and 10 minutes active case discussion) and to make it even easier, all sessions are recorded .

These bi-weekly sessions now offer a rotation of topics throughout the year, so there is something for everyone, whether you’re part of a fully-fledged radiology department (with an unlimited number of participants) or just a passionate professional with an appetite for learning.

Either way, the courses are packed with useful information and there are plenty of chances for participants to use the ”live” chat facility to ask lecturers direct questions during each session.

Plus, even if you’re busy, there’s no need to miss out – all sessions are recorded and can subsequently be streamed via our website.

The first session of 2018 is already under our belt and was well received. We’re looking forward to kicking the next one off already.

For more information please click here for the full annual programme or email the Academy team directly on academy@telemedicineclinic.com

Additionally, visit our website for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TMC trial leads to 27% increase in radiology reporting efficiency: full report available here

Earlier this month we reported on a trial of TMC’s Collaborative Diagnostic Network (CDxN) in Sweden which resulted in five hospitals in the Västra Götaland Region (VGR) improving radiology reporting efficiency by 27% after setting up an IT network to share magnetic resonance (MR) body cases across all the subspecialists.

Discrepancy levels fell by 42%, according to our just published case study of the initiative and the network helped VGR subspecialists who had not previously worked together to communicate and collaborate.

Five subspecialists from across the hospital group were selected to carry out all first readings and then the cases were handed over to TMC, for a second reading.

“VGR radiologists also received interactive, online case-based training to build up further crucial skills within MR body reporting,” says TMC’s Claudio Silvestrin, who wrote the report.

“Collaboration brought about by the network helped individual practitioners to improve their subspecialist skills in an area that until then had not yielded enough cases per hospital to allow experts to gain much experience. The VGR radiology community was comprised mostly of generalists who found themselves covering all subspecialty areas and radiologists with 300 or more reported MTI cases achieved the highest reporting efficiencies”, Claudio continued.

What is important about this experience is that it could be replicated anywhere – the hospitals were networked via Telemedicine Clinic’s Collaborative Diagnostics Networks (CDxN) platform, which is available to any hospital group that wants it.

CDxN was bundled with a standard Sectra IDS7 picture archiving and communication system and Nuance Speechmagic voice recognition software. In other words, all the elements needed to achieve a double-digit reporting efficiency improvement are there for the taking.

Click here to download a full copy of the report

… or contact Claudio Silvestrin, TMC’s Business Development lead on csilvestrin@telemedicineclinic.com

 

 

 

Clinical practice: should you get a foreigner to say it for you?

Being able to break things gently to a patient is one of the hallmarks of a good doctor. However, there are times in clinical practice when you need to quit beating about the bush.

When that happens, recent research suggests you may be better off speaking in a language other than your mother tongue.

Psychologists at the University of Chicago looked at why people who were speaking a foreign language found it easier to make tough utilitarian decisions, such as pushing someone in front of a train to save five others, according to an article in Science Daily.

“We discovered that people using a foreign language were not any more concerned with maximising the greater good, but rather were less averse to violating the taboos that can interfere with making utility-maximising choices ” said lead author Sayuri Hayakawa.

Importantly, the authors believe that differences in medical decision making might be down to the language you use. Just as importantly, no train travellers were killed during the research.

Radiology lives: could untranslatable words affect how we think?

Eskimos are (controversially) said to have hundreds of words for snow. Now, a University of East London psychology lecturer has speculated that maybe there could be value in looking more closely at these kinds of foreign words that cannot be translated.

Tim Lomas has established the Positive Lexicography Project to catalogue words that do not have any translation, such as the trendy Danish term ‘hygge’, which conveys a sense of homely warmth and comfort.

Besides offering a treasure trove of interesting words, such as ‘mbuki-mvuki’, which in Bantu means to get naked and dance around, Lomas believes the Project can offer a window into cultural differences while potentially expanding the emotional vocabulary of English speakers.

Speaking in The New Yorker, he also claims that some untranslatable terms, like Eskimo’s many words for snow, may have arisen in cultures that have unique environments.

Getting all warm and cosy makes a lot more sense in Denmark than in Italy, for instance, which may be why the Danish have hygge and the Italians don’t.

This kind of notion may be of interest to radiologists, given the growing internationalisation of the profession and its requirement for precise language in reporting. If you’re an aficionado of the idea, as they might say in Spain, then find out more with Lomas’s introductory paper.

 

 

Reporting quality: don’t pick up that phone

People who phone radiologists asking for a request to be vetted could well be behaving inappropriately… and might even cause reporting discrepancies.

That is one of the findings from an Imperial College Healthcare National Health Service Trust study unveiled by Dr Christopher Watura at this year’s UK Radiological Conference in Manchester.

The study, to see what impact modern order communication systems were having on radiology processes across two UK hospitals, showed radiologists are regularly bombarded with distracting phone calls.

According to a report in AuntMinnie.com, 92% of phone calls interrupted radiology reporting, which Watura said could bump up the chances of reporting discrepancies by 12%. The most common source of calls, at 48%, was people asking for a request to be vetted.

However, radiologists claimed almost 48% of these calls were inappropriate. Overall, 58% of calls were not deemed appropriate by the radiologists surveyed.

“The large number of calls asking for requests to be vetted and studies to be reported … suggests that the benefits of an electronic order system are not yet being realised and changes are needed,” concluded AuntMinnie.com.

  • What are your main bugbears at work? Let us know.

Clinical practice: it’s true that many scans aren’t needed

Research has confirmed what most radiologists already know from intuition: many scans that are ordered simply aren’t needed. That is the finding from research shown at the European Congress of Radiology this year.

The study, by a team led by Dr Rusha Sarhan of the Department of Radiology & Medical Imaging at King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital in Saudi Arabia, found that “no valid clinical indication for the study” was the biggest cause of inappropriate CT and MRI requests.

“Poor awareness of the appropriateness criteria for radiological exams must be tackled and more efforts should be dedicated to encourage the healthcare community to develop and adopt criteria for appropriate use of CT, MRI and other radiological procedures,” the authors said.