A five-minute conversation is helping improve service, care and timing of tests for neurology inpatients in need of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

This week, neurologists and radiologists at Royal University Hospital began meeting each morning to discuss the neurology patients scheduled to receive MRIs for the day and ensure the right patients are getting the right testing done at the right time.

MRI at RUH

MRI service to neurology inpatients at Royal University Hospital is improving thanks to huddles between neurologists and radiologists.

“The idea is that one five-minute conversation can save hours and maybe even days for patients by creating a better coordination of efforts,” said Bryan Witt, a member of Team 2, the Transitions of Care team for the Region’s 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day.

Part of what the Transitions of Care team is doing is supporting physicians and helping breakdown barriers that potentially create delays to a patient’s progression of care. Imaging was a support service that was examined, and it was noted that MRIs not done at the right time were something that could create delays in progressing a patient’s care.

It was suggested that short, scheduled meetings between neurologists and radiologists every morning to discuss neurology inpatients needing an MRI would work as a solution to this issue, and could drastically change how we deliver care to these patients by encouraging increased communication among these two groups.

“Rounding on patients together was seen as the best solution for these two teams,” said Witt.

The rounds allow the neurologists to triage the patients waiting for MRIs with the radiologists. This way, those doing the testing know which patients can’t wait.  It also allows the radiologists an opportunity to talk to the physicians about what they need from the images, so those doing the imaging know how they need to image the brain, and this reduces the possibility of rework.  Knowing when their patients are scheduled for imaging during the day may also allow the neurologists to review those images more quickly.

Traditionally, when physicians sent requisitions in for MRIs, radiology would triage patients as best they could with the information they had, with the goal of getting the imaging done in as short a timeframe as possible. But sometimes, quicker is not better, and isn’t the most appropriate for a patient’s care plan.

“We wanted radiology to be able to plan the imaging so that it was happening when the patient needs it; at the most appropriate time for their care. The neurologist can help plan and ensure that happens,” said Witt.

The neurologists and radiologists huddle around a virtual whiteboard listing the inpatients who need MRIs, and can prioritize the list as they discuss each patient. They can make the changes in the moment, and the list helps facilitate the conversation between the two groups.

“Setting aside time for these short conversations will fill in gaps in information and allow us to coordinate the care around that patient better, as sometimes other tests need to work around the scheduling of an MRI,” Witt said.

Instrumental to developing this process has been Dr. Gary Hunter, a neurologist, and Peter Szkup, a radiologist, as well as other members of the medical imaging team.

A trial of these new rounding procedures began this week, and so far it’s going well.

“They were very, very pleased,” Witt said of the two groups. “It gave them the information they needed, allowed them to reprioritize some patients, and was quick and concise.  It was a good test of the system.”

The team is trialling this idea of rounding with MRIs right now, but it could be expanded to other procedures down the road.  They also plan to come up with a way to close the information loop at the unit level, so the care team there knows who is getting an MRI and when.

See more stories about Region improvements at www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/ReadyEveryDay.