Imaging informatics: Reporting radiographers and working from home

This month, RIG’s Moira Crotty explains what you need to start home-working effectively

Published: 19 February 2021 Information management & technology

moira_crotty_2.jpg2020 saw an explosion in home working, with more and more radiologists spending part of their working time at home. Are you a reporting radiographer? Would you like to join them? Here are some tips to help make it happen.

Make your case

What are the costs?

The main outlay for a ‘reporting package’ is the workstation, desk, a chair (or perhaps you prefer a standing desk?), any necessary licensing or software costs, and network infrastructure. If your organisation has no home workers as yet, the latter could be both technically challenging and expensive, but if it is already in place for other reporters then the cost for another individual reporter is likely to be low. If you have a poor broadband connection this may need to be upgraded.What are the benefits? More flexible shift patterns - perhaps providing a service over a weekend or in the evening? Being able to continue to work while self-isolating; improved quality and productivity due to fewer interruptions; more opportunities for insourcing of reporting (cost savings over all). If your Trust is part of a network, will you be working on reporting from other Trusts too?

Check out your home environment

Do you have space for the workstation where you can work undisturbed by children, partners or pets – a spare room or study? Bear in mind patient confidentiality – can the workstation be seen by others, how is the area secured? Monitors need to be placed away from reflections or glare from light sources. Is there sufficient power supply for the workstation, reporting monitors and accessories? Is the speed of your broadband and Wi-Fi good enough? In most cases 20+ Mbps will be enough. However, Wi-Fi signal strength can vary in different rooms, and not all systems can be supported wirelessly, so you may need a network cable to plug the workstation directly into your router.

Top things to think about

How will you set up the workstation? Will it be initially set up on the hospital site, then delivered to you? Will someone from the IT department phone and talk you through it? Or will you rely on the PACS Team? How will your monitors be Quality Assured? QA is critical for safe and reliable image review. Ask your PACS Manager or Medical Physicist. Will you be able to use Speech Recognition at home or will you be typing your reports? How will you get (technical) support if something goes wrong? What hours is this type of support available? How will you communicate with colleagues - radiographers, radiologists, GPs, A&E (emergency department) teams etc? Some PACS support instant messaging and some will allow Microsoft Teams to operate alongside the RIS & PACS, while others may rely on email or phone. If you chose to move to a different Trust will there be significant disruption in removing the equipment and services, or costs you would have to bear? If the workstation suffers accidental damage, who bears the cost – check with your service manager. The response to the pandemic has resulted in a great drive towards all kinds of healthcare staff requesting home working set-ups. Many radiologists now have full reporting capability in their homes but at present it seems that very few reporting radiographers have a similar opportunity. Although there is some evidence of improved productivity and cost savings from insourcing, there is less evidence about the savings in the long run. However, major events such as the current pandemic can lead to new ways of thinking, new resources and new solutions.

Want to get involved in the RIG?

Expressions of interest are invited from Society of Radiographers’ members who would like to join the Radiographic Informatics Group (RIG) - five new vacancies become available this year. Applications are invited from all sections of the radiography community and from all four countries. Those applying should be in good standing with the SoR, respected and held in high esteem by their peers. They should be excellent collaborators and active team/board members with the enthusiasm to bring to the profession/education. In addition, logistically, applicants should be able and willing to devote time and energy to the group between meetings by email, online sharing service, teleconference, and the attendance of approximately two meetings per year in person. To apply, please submit a short CV (no longer than two sides of A4), including your SoR membership number, length of membership, HCPC registration number if applicable, and show the nature of the expertise or area of focus you would expect to bring to the group. Applications should be emailed to [email protected] by midday Friday 19 June 2020.

Informal discussions with current group members can be arranged by emailing sy[email protected]

Click here to read 'your questions answered' for March 2021