Advanced Imaging Shows Promise for Addressing Radiology Staff Shortages

by Mark Miller on Jun 30, 2023

Team of Healthcare Workers Looking at Advanced Imaging ScreenHospital staffing shortages are a real problem. In fact, last March the American Hospital Association submitted a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee that deemed them a "national emergency."

The impact of these shortages has affected the gamut of healthcare worker roles -- from physicians and nurses to medical technicians and yes, radiologic technologists. What makes staff shortages even more complex is a consistent growth in medical imaging demand. Due in part to the rise of chronic diseases, as well as growing education around available imaging  technologies, the U.S. imaging market has an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2% between 2022 and 2030. But who will be available to perform these exams?

Increased imaging demand makes it critical to fill radiology technologist positions, and investing in better technology can be just the solution hospitals need to not only offer patients necessary imaging but also to provide staff with resources to do their jobs more efficiently.

To make things even more complicated, the face of radiology is changing. In 2023, radiology departments will welcome their first class of Gen Z residents, and this generational shift is raising new questions about how to consider the unique nuances of this workforce. Gen Z radiology staff are "digital natives." Their world has always included the internet and smartphones; they have experienced a seamless connection to the digital world since birth, and they expect that same level of connectivity within their workplace.

Unfortunately, current medical imaging equipment doesn't always meet these expectations. Older imaging equipment lacks the digital connectivity Gen Z is used to. CT and MRI scanners used beyond the typical 10-year lifespan are more susceptible to costly and time-consuming breakdowns -- which can translate into frustration in a younger workforce that is less forgiving about dealing with equipment downtime (not to mention thousands of dollars in lost revenue).

In the face of these concerns, it's no surprise that Gen Z healthcare staff place high priority on technology when making job decisions. More than 90% of Gen Zers say the technology an employer provides would be a factor in the job choice they made among similar offers.

There's no doubt about it: The more modern the technology, the more inclined younger workers are to take an interest in open healthcare positions. Healthcare organizations that rely on older systems are therefore at a competitive disadvantage when trying to lure new team members. And this effect can be even more challenging for smaller, rural hospitals competing with urban facilities for top talent.

Healthcare Staff

As imaging demands increase and staffing shortages persist, current radiology staff are left with a heavier patient workload. This creates more complexities in a healthcare field where burnout is already deeply entrenched. At the same time, patients are demanding more. They want high-quality care more quickly than ever.

Consider this: Of all the MRI scans that are completed, 10% to 15% have to be retaken due to patient movement during the scan, making more work for radiology technologists and also extending the length of the appointment for patients -- some of whom already have anxiety about the scan itself. Older imaging systems only exacerbate this process, as the outdated machines perform more slowly and are generally less comfortable for patients.

The Benefits of Advanced Imaging

How can these problems be addressed? Advanced imaging systems show real promise for making both department workflow and patient exams more efficient. Precise images can typically be captured in a fraction of the time of older systems, and the equipment is designed to cater to more patients. That's a win-win for one of the biggest outpatient revenue generators hospitals have.

New equipment may increase patient efficiency to the degree that hospitals can even reduce the number of positions they need to fill. Fewer staffing needs means stronger financial margins for the hospital system.

Good Equipment Service is Key

Investing in new medical imaging equipment is a big cost for hospitals. That's why it's important to know it's backed by high-quality service that protects the investment. For example, a rural hospital will likely depend on remote diagnosis and repair. When a service provider can view the imaging equipment issue remotely, they have an opportunity to resolve the problem without even having to come onsite. When an onsite visit is needed, field personnel already have the insights they need to get the equipment back up and running as quickly as possible.

Paired with a full-service plan that includes routine maintenance, this level of care helps to enhance the patient experience and create a more profitable hospital infrastructure. But it all starts with modern equipment that can get patients in faster, attract a Gen Z workforce accustomed to a pristine digital user experience, and create the best patient and staff experience possible. 

This article was originally published on on May 30, 2023. Click here to view the original article.

Meet the Author

Mark Miller has served the healthcare industry for 20 years. In his current role as the Vice President of Sales, Mark leads Cassling's Account Executive team throughout the Midwest, West and South territories. He started his career with a degree in Cardiopulmonary Science from LSU, and worked for five years in the clinical setting, including the cath lab, echocardiography and respiratory therapy departments. Mark has spent the last 15 years leveraging his clinical experience in sales and sales leadership roles in the interventional and diagnostic imaging space. Outside of his career in healthcare, Mark is active in several wetland conservation and watershed improvement projects with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in drought-susceptible areas of North East Texas.

Image of Author