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Streamline technologist onboarding with the power of AI

Lisa Johnson, Product Knowledge Specialist – Published on December 21, 2023

Labor shortages and artificial intelligence (AI) have been consistent themes throughout 2023 and were hot topics at this year’s RSNA.  An aging workforce and clinician burnout does not bode well, as the boomer generation continues to drive up demand for care, including radiological services. RSNA president Matthew Mauro, MD, spoke about these issues, calling them “a perfect storm” that lies ahead for the industry.

Can AI be the solution to help alleviate this pending storm?

AI has the potential to streamline workflows and improve patient outcomes. But an often-overlooked area where AI can help is its ability to optimize technologist onboarding. AI software uses objective data to personalize training to upskill and retain staff during times of high turnover, lowering the impact of that “perfect storm.”

A recent MTMI webinar covered this topic: “Strategies for onboarding new mammography technologists: Leveraging process, technology, and data to improve performanceon-demand webinar features Gina Arnold, Senior Technologist in Women’s Imaging from St. Luke’s University Health Network, and Lisa Johnston, Product Knowledge Specialist from Volpara Health.

St. Luke’s University Health Network spans 15 mammography sites, supported by 60 technologists who take over 70,000 mammograms annually. As an organization, they are passionate about quality and their staff being highly trained.

Gina has held this powerful philosophy throughout her career and instills this quality focus in her team. “If we’re not imaging that breast tissue for the radiologist to interpret, then that tissue is being missed… I want to visualize all [the] tissue I can so we are capturing breast cancer as early as possible.”

Getting objective feedback from AI enhances this goal. St Luke’s has used Volpara’s AI software for mammography quality since 2018 as a tool to invest in next generation of medical professionals.

Volpara Analytics is powered by Volpara’s AI positioning algorithm, Volpara TruPGMI™, which automatically evaluates the image quality of every standard mammographic view captured. TruPGMI includes a clear, defined set of metrics that evaluate patient positioning in a manner that supports complete automation. Benchmarks collected on 3.3 million images from 2,000 technologists are used to guide staff, showing them where they are excellent and where they can improve.

Gina highlighted the different processes, technology, and data St. Luke’s has championed to streamline the onboarding of new technologists, improve and maintain their quality, and celebrate their staff.

Success strategies before AI:

  • Standardize across your network: build workflows that allow your staff to work across rooms and sites without the need to remember how everything works. This creates stability and supports a consistent quality of care.
  • Float position: dedicate a role to help cover those last-minute changes and be deployed where resourcing is needed most.
  • Centralize training: Gina and her colleagues are the point people for new hires, teaching them the St. Luke’s way for consistency and efficiency. They also ensure new staff get experience across their network, developing their skills from working with seasoned staff and serving a diverse population.

AI to drive screening to new heights:

  • Cross train x-ray technologists: using Volpara Analytics can speed up their onboarding into the more specialized field of mammography. Volpara Analytics can help direct technologists to what is acceptable and what areas they need to improve and offers self-directed training videos.
  • Cut down on time spent on compliance: AI can automate quality assessment and schedule reports to free up staff from the administrative work related to EQUIP compliance with the FDA.
  • High performance = high engagement: The highest performing technologists have been found to be the most engaged with the AI tool and have used it to enhance their positioning and do a better job.

What is Gina’s favorite use of AI? Rewarding and recognizing staff:

  • Set goals and objectives: use of AI metrics from Volpara Analytics makes the program fair, consistent and transparent.
  • Recognize top performers and those that are most improved: foster a positive and supportive work environment.
  • See a return on your software investment: give managers and directors easy access to data on performance.

At the heart of it, St Luke’s is using Volpara Analytics to help bring their diverse staff, spread across a large network geographically, closer together. “Because our staff works so hard, our leaders and directors really want them to feel like they make a difference and know that we care about them. Volpara Analytics is an easy way to show we are invested in their success,” Gina said.

View the on-demand webinar and learn how to streamline your onboarding and overall mammography quality with Volpara Analytics.