By Aine Cryts

Radiology and hospital IT team members share many common skills, but their priorities and goals may not always align. That lack of alignment is a challenge radiology stakeholders need to manage, especially given the trend at many U.S. hospitals to have radiology IT teams report to the chief information officer (CIO), rather than the head of the radiology department.

Common skills shared by both IT teams includes experience managing servers, storage, and networking. That’s in addition to application configuration and maintenance, interfaces, and integrations, according to Don K. Dennison, FSIIM, a 14-year medical imaging informatics veteran based in Ontario, Canada.

What differs for each of those teams often comes down to the way success is measured and priorities are set, he points out. According to Dennison, the top three questions radiology IT teams prioritize are:

  1. Does the software work as-needed?
  2. Does the solution enable the necessary workflow?
  3. Are the end users productive and happy?

That may be in contrast to hospital IT teams, which likely prioritize cost effectiveness, system efficiency, and policy compliance, says Dennison, who presented on “risk assessment and mitigation” at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine’s Enterprise Imaging Security virtual summit, which took place on October 7 and 8.

Tap into Hospital IT Team’s Motivations

Radiology IT and hospital IT teams value minimizing complexity—namely, the need for fewer systems, people, and processes involved to achieve an outcome. It’s important to remember those areas of common focus, especially when IT teams are merged under the hospital CIO, says Dennison.

Challenges can arise when these teams’ priorities compete. That becomes most acute when the hospital creates a policy that prevents a system from being used to enable a necessary clinical workflow, which is important to the hospital’s radiologists.

To respond to this challenge, Dennison calls on radiology stakeholders, including IT staff, radiologists, technologists, and administrators, to learn what motivates their hospital’s IT team and what they’re trying to achieve through their efforts and policies. In addition, radiology stakeholders must “be able to articulate the often-unique attributes of imaging IT systems, data, and workflow, and be able to propose alternatives that meet the intended goal, as closely as possible,” he adds.

Prioritizing Customer Service and IT Security

While the hospital’s IT team will likely prioritize customer service and an appreciation for the varied needs of the clinical departments and business units, that won’t be the case in every hospital, laments Dennison. For example, the hospital IT team may be located in a different physical location from the radiology department, which means they rarely interact with radiologists and other stakeholders. That can translate into a lack of understanding about the radiology department’s needs and pain points.

Dennison advises radiology IT staff to educate hospital IT staff about the unique aspects of imaging IT. Specifically, he recommends focusing on the radiology department’s workflows and equipment, such as imaging modalities and reading workstations.

While radiology IT staff should advocate for the needs of radiologists and technologists—and the patients who use imaging services—they should guard against being seen as obstructionist or rejecting solutions from the hospital IT team, he counsels. “Work collaboratively to define [solutions] that are acceptable to all,” advises Dennison.

If, for instance, a necessary piece of imaging equipment can’t be integrated with the hospital’s standard system for user authentication, use an alternative way to secure the system and limit unauthorized access, he says. What’s important here is documenting these exceptions and the rationale behind the exceptions, adds Dennison.