Focusing on the Constant


By Philip L Ruth, MBA, RT(R)

For several years, I have written articles for Link that are geared toward the changes within our profession and how those changes impact the patient.  I have been in the imaging field for almost 35 years and have never witnessed such uncertain times.  Economic woes have hit healthcare as never before. High unemployment combined with employed workers unable to afford healthcare coverage is a major dilemma. These factors, along with populations that are living longer, add to the complexity.

As I talk to colleagues all over the country, I find very few that challenge the fact that the way we provide healthcare needs to change. Americans are demanding change in the way healthcare is provided and we not sure where the political debates will end up.  However, one thing is for sure, the needed change is not an overnight fix.

The political debates are both important and concerning.  Daily involvement in reimbursement issues, workforce reductions, the lack of capital funds, and strategies to make organizations as lean as possible seem to be never ending.  However, we may have a tendency to overlook one major factor: our attention must be focused on the constant—the patient.  Reaching out to the patient can be very simple, can create big gains in satisfaction scores, and be very cost effective.  Below are a few simple ideas to help in these challenging times:

  • The basics of greeting the patient by name in a positive, friendly manner, along with providing a comforting word can do wonders for the patient’s outlook (and our own).
  • A clear explanation of the pending procedure, geared toward the appropriate level of learning, will go a long way with patient satisfaction.  This interaction not only involves the patient in their own care but demonstrates we are engaged and concerned about the patient.
  • The act of doubling a pillow or offering a warm blanket will often help meet the patient’s expectations by making them more comfortable.
  • Walking a family member or visitor to their destination, whenever possible, shows we value those individuals.
  • Daily rounding through departments and waiting areas can bring to light co-worker, family, visitor and physician issues that often can be easily corrected.

Political debates and our daily challenges will continue forever.  The bottom line is keeping the patient as our #1 priority by prioritizing their needs and meeting their expectations.


Philip L. Ruth, MBA, RT(R) is director of medical imaging at St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center in Hot Springs National Park, AR. He is a member of the Editorial Review Board, as well as a contributor to Radiology Management and Link. He can be reached at philip.ruth@mercy.net.

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