Approximately 1 year ago, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)-Presbyterian, a task force was formed consisting of a receptionist, scheduler, CT scan technologist, ultrasound technologist and MRI technologist, radiology nursing, and management staff to identify ways to improve patient satisfaction. This was a result of a survey that reflected customer dissatisfaction with the long waiting time in radiology. The task force met weekly, and action items were prepared at each meeting and followed up at the following meeting as there were many just-do-it items. The action list included a liaison in the waiting room that was consistently communicating to the patients and families, beepers to page patients when it was their turn rather than calling the name, change in telephone paths, and self-assessment to be completed by the patient rather than by the patient and staff members. Many of these items were implemented with some marginal success, but most important was the liaison in the waiting room. Patients want to be able to talk to someone about delay and how they can get their appointment done in order to meet the next appointment time for the day. The outcome of the process was a three-point improvement in satisfaction rating from the survey conducted 1 year earlier.

It was evident that a group of staff members that were knowledgeable about the process can come together to improve the process in a short time. At the UPMC-Presbyterian, the radiology department staff continues to use task forces to identify ways to improve programs in the radiology department.

Loretta L. Hanwell, MPA, is director of radiology services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Presbyterian, and a member of the Decisions in Axis Imaging News editorial advisory board.