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How hassle maps can improve radiology department operations

November 09, 2018
Business Affairs X-Ray
From the November 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Dr. Syed F. Zaidi

Innovation can be a messy word because many disagree on its definition when it comes to their own organization.
Innovation for one may be using a digital tablet for an intake form, while another may believe using artificial intelligence to help read clinical images is the baseline for innovation. Both examples may be new to an organization, thus, both may be deemed “innovative”.

It’s likely that the broad borders of innovation may cause anxiety because there is too much focus on the end-product and not the process. Large amounts of frustration can be ironed out by homing in on the hurdles involved in a workflow.

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That’s why we here at Radiology Associates of Canton, when looking to refresh internally, to improve workflow and increase patient satisfaction, focused on smoothing operations through the use of “hassle maps”. It’s been an eye-opening project that can serve as an example for those looking to innovate within their own practice. Focus on the process with the end result as a guide.

Scanning for pain points
Radiology Associates of Canton is a Radiology Partners practice located in the Canton, Ohio metropolitan area. In late 2016, we set out to document the hassles that patients and referring providers encounter when interacting with the practice. The purpose was to recognize and mitigate pain points in the processes.

The project was born out of a suggestion by the leadership of Aultman Hospital, which has a co-management agreement with our practice, to look for opportunities to simplify our process for patients to navigate. Working with Kristen DeDent, executive director of process improvement at Aultman, we decided hassle maps could be an effective way to see where these opportunities exist.

For those first hearing that term, hassle maps are a visual or written documentation of problems, no matter the size, that individuals experience when using a product, or in our case, a service. These maps are then used to reduce those pain points and simplify the process of services.

For example, this is a hassle map for transferring money virtually in the year 2000:

Drive to the bank → Purchase a money order → Buy an envelope and a stamp → Send money order to individual via physical mail carrier → Recipient receives money order → Recipient drives to bank → Recipient deposits money into bank account

That sounds exhausting just thinking about it. The process also took days to complete. Here’s what a hassle map for the same event in 2018:

Two parties download the Venmo app → One individual sends money electronically to recipient → Recipient electronically receives money and starts bank transfer in-app → Recipient receives funds in bank account

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