The Royal College of Radiology (RCR) reports unprecedented shortages across diagnostic radiologists – those who enable accurate treatment – and interventional radiologists who treat via non-invasive procedures. By RCR estimates, approximately 2,000 more consultants will be needed just to keep up with pre-pandemic demand for scans and surgery.
This shortfall shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. In fact, it’s expected to grow to 44% by 2025. It’s a concerning situation and the number of demoralised radiologists looking to work less and leave the NHS is even more worrying.
Without staff, patients face longer waits for radiology services and treatment, missing out on crucial early diagnoses and life-saving image-guided surgery.
Why the shortfall?
While the pandemic exacerbated the problem, the radiology shortage isn’t new or unique to radiology.
Other specialty technologists such as ultrasound, radiation therapy, MRI and CT are also reporting staffing shortfalls. Issues such as low pay, extended working hours, an ever-growing workload and outdated IT equipment or poor connectivity are long-standing NHS problems.
Now, the pandemic has worsened a significant challenge, with the potential healthcare workforce exploring new horizons thanks to remote or hybrid working, and shifting life priorities.
Avoid the radiology understaffing domino effect
To address staff shortages, new ways of working are critical. Without more consultants in training, improved staff retention and recruitment, expanding budgets and better staff support, the way things are done must change.
As a result, radiology reporting equipment and technology need to be fit for purpose, up-to-date and ahead of the curve where possible.
Ensuring that diagnosis and reporting are both as accurate and timely as possible is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, we are left with the growing alternative – delays that create a rapid decline in patient care standards. This impacts treatment outcomes and lives, which in turn creates a domino effect of impacts.
It is not just the radiology and healthcare sectors that will be failing in their duty of care. If consultants do not receive the right information, at the right time, they are unable to diagnose. Meanwhile, relevant supporting staff will be affected by the extra workloads that reporting delays cause. It will ultimately be the patient that suffers, along with all those that depend or surround them: families, businesses, communities, and the economy.
Technology is not a cure for the NHS and radiology, but it can help. AI-powered clinical speech recognition solutions empower practitioners and save time. Cloud-based applications let radiologists, clinicians and healthcare staff report and enter patient data whenever and wherever it’s needed. The right technology helps staff do more in less time, more accurately, and without the location and connectivity constraints of older legacy systems.
Invest in the right speech recognition technology
Speech recognition technology is not new to radiologists. But not everyone has access to the latest benefits that cloud and AI voice-driven clinical SR solutions deliver. Speech recognition has changed in the last 15 years and continues to evolve. Today’s solutions equip radiologists to tackle the heavy lifting of reporting – and address backlogs – while mitigating the increase in reporting demand.
Radiologists need a solution that is future-proof and provides the latest in voice-driven AI. But making this change can be daunting.
As the developers of Augnito, we are a recent newcomer to the health-tech sector, but born with a strong dictation and transcription heritage thanks to our 20-year partnership with the NHS. We have seen the applications and technology that promised to fix clinical documentation backlogs but failed. In many cases, they created bigger problems.
Our advice to customers would be to seek a speech recognition solution that offers simplicity and accuracy.
- Accuracy: to avoid mistakes and errors in data entry – a solution that understands radiology vocabulary, even when spoken with the strongest of accents.
- Efficiency: to allow reports to be compiled easily and instantly.
- Simplicity: to enable the user to ‘speak and report’ – a solution that works out of the box, without the need for typing, copying parts of documents, or sending files for transcription. And a solution that is cloud-based, not needing new versions or upgrades installed locally, and therefore keeping the IT burden low.
- Costs: that provide scalability and flexibility – a solution that works within departmental budgets without high investment in user training, hardware, software, or infrastructure.
- Time: to create instant reports, invest in patient care, and invest in the future of radiology – without having to spend hours searching patient records and notes, or contacting technical support to assist with system downtime and workflow issues.
Augnito provides a speech-enabled reporting solution that bolsters the capabilities of radiology teams and lets them be deployed where they are needed the most. Instead of restructuring specialists to cover radiographer or reporting tasks, Augnito allows radiologists to diagnose and report on patient cases directly. This means faster reporting, enriched patient data, and reduced clinical risk.
Radiology staff should feel confident in the technology that is available to support them, so they can deal with the demands of their day-to-day as easily and efficiently as possible. Secure cloud-based speech recognition is the key – and Augnito is a good start.
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