How the search for a better way to run a medical practice put Imaging Queensland on the map
Pretty much anyone who’s been through the assembly line-like process of obtaining diagnostic images, or who has struggled to maintain their patience, physical posture, and some measure of dignity during highly technical imaging procedures will tell you that the process can be stressful and, quite often, cold.
It’s the mission of Imaging Queensland to change that.
“As a young radiologist, I wanted to find a better way to look after patients,” Imaging Queensland’s managing director, Dr. Siavash Es'haghi, said. “I was feeling that the existing models and practices were very corporate-focused at the time, and the patients and the delivery of services were inadequate. I felt this was not right, and I had a vision that we could deliver those services better. And that's why I felt I should do it myself and I should start a very patient-focused company.”
Every year, more than 170,000 Queenslanders support that insightful decision.
Founded in 2007, Imaging Queensland delivers diagnostic imaging services at more than 14 clinics and three specialised nuclear medicine departments and advanced women’s imaging services throughout Queensland.
Siavash chose the Sunshine Coast as the operation’s home base to fill in a dire service gap in the area.
“It was a very desirable location both for lifestyle and the ability to bring the services that I thought didn't exist, to close those gaps and work in areas where services were performed but were, in my view, inadequately done. Therefore, it was the right place to start the vision,” he told VENTURE.
Distressed by the lack of personal attention given in typical high-volume radiological practices, Siavash sought a way to deliver his vision of providing real care in a crowded marketplace whose players are focused on volume, cycle time, and technicalities.
“The services that were available were delivered in a very impersonal and a very commoditized way. The personal touch, and delivery of services with attention to the patient was the distinct difference that was needed,” Siavash said. “Our mission is to look after every patient and provide the best outcome for the patient, rather than just looking at a commodity of just image takers. That is where we set out our differentiation with our competitors and others in the market who do the same thing.”
Today, Imaging Queensland is the only diagnostic imaging firm in the state accredited under AS/NZS ISO 9001: 2015 standards, and is certified with the National Safety and Quality Health Services Standards. The company is composed of subsidiaries: Sunshine Coast Radiology, Central Queensland Radiology, Moreton Bay Radiology, Queensland Nuclear Medicine, and Advanced Women’s Imaging.
Actions that Comfort, Results that Clarify
“We continually ask ourselves, ‘How do our services help our patients overcome the illness that they are suffering from?’ It's looking at it from a slightly different angle, trying to put the patient first, then the actual imaging as a tool of discovery,” Siavash said.
As data and analytics become part and parcel of the diagnostic process, Imaging Queensland is staying at the forefront of emerging technologies. Siavash points to the rise of artificial intelligence in the radiology industry as a significant driver of change.
“Clearly, this is an area that within the next 10 or 20 years will be even further developed, so this proves our concept even more. Artificial intelligence will be able to create imaging better, faster, and more accurately, and therefore make us irrelevant in that story. Our main focus is to develop a service scenario where this is not just all about providing an image, but how we distinguish ourselves by putting the patient first. That's what our strength should be.”
To that end, the practice recently implemented Vital Images’ enterprise software Vitrea Intelligence to help the company better understand and improve its performance.
“We know that analytics plays a significant part in the better management and utilization of our services and how we purchase and use new equipment, as well as staffing and rostering and so on,” Siavash said.
Data and analytics also play a vital role in the patient care Imaging Queensland provides, particularly when it comes to managing radiation dosages.
“Is there a way of reducing that dosage through different techniques than the imaging equipment allows us, so that we don't sacrifice quality by reducing the dosage?” Siavash asked. “There is a fine balance of getting the right quality of imaging, the right advice, and the right diagnosis with the lowest possible radiation exposure. Analytics helps with that. Analytics leads to a better understanding of the equipment that we purchase, which vendors should we use, and which machinery gives us faster, better results with less radiation at an acceptable image quality.”
When choosing vendors for imaging equipment, Siavash said, the differences in manufacturer’s offerings can be subtle but very meaningful.
“Geographically, Queensland is a very big state. The geography, regional towns where we travel to, time, and distances are big, and therefore we need to have reliable equipment and access to service engineers that are able to support and service the machines promptly,” he stressed. “This is going to be a partnership for the life of that machine that we're going to be using, and we're going to need their technology not only for that particular machine but to follow up, and do training, and anything we can do to improve and maximize the utilization of that machine. All of those factors come into play when we choose vendors.”
Creating a unified culture of care over multiple offices in a wide geographic area is a challenge technology helps management meet.
“We create virtual environments so people don't feel isolated even though they may be literally hundreds of kilometers away, and we use online technology to engage with our staff wherever they are,” Siavash said.
The company’s culture of providing comfort begins with the radiologists, who set examples of professional excellence, respect, and caring to all.
“We live our values: to be passionate, be dedicated, be responsible, and be innovative,” he concluded.