Echocardiograms are one of the most commonly ordered cardiac diagnostic investigations, yet there are not many opportunities for those involved in ordering, administering and interpreting them to get together and discuss how to improve efficiency and quality issues.
Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Tang wanted to create these opportunities, and sought support from the South Island Medical Staff Association. He used the funding to form the Echo Group, a group of five cardiologists who committed to meet with each other as well as members of the echocardiography team to ensure there were good mechanisms to providing sonographer feedback, providing continuing education for the sonographers and managerial staff, and eliciting feedback from the sonographers and managerial staff about workload and person-power issues.
Calling the funding the “the impetus to meet outside of the busy workplace”, Dr. Tang and the Echo Group formalized a commitment to further enhance knowledge translation, made a commitment to continued quality improvement in echo reporting, and committed to continue meetings in order to regularly check in with all stakeholders involved in echocardiology processes.
As a result of these meetings, the group has a better understanding of the factors influencing job satisfaction for the echo technicians, which may in turn affect performance and quality. There is also a plan to engage those involved in echo services up and down the island, in recognition of the fact that all are under the same administrative umbrella. Though funding from SIMSA was limited to one year, the project was so successful in connecting those involved in echocardiograms that the group plans to continue meeting for regular discussions.
Speaking about the conclusion of the formal project, Dr. Tang noted that “it has demonstrated the importance of continued investment in engagement and discussions in how to improve echo lab performance and quality, including mechanisms for recruitment, improving workflow, and continuing education”.