Investment in Human Capital

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While organizations will spend millions of dollars to purchase new technology or to upgrade equipment, they will allocate relatively little to train the staff who are actually charged with operating this expensive capital.

If you look at it on a percentage basis, I think the numbers will startle you. Take, for example, an organization that spends $3 million on a PACS while only permitting the PACS Administrator to go to one information technology conference, an expense of approximately $3,000. Or, consider the organization that makes a capital investment in speech recognition but only allocates funds for one week of on-site support. And where is the wisdom in the radiology practice that purchases a new CT scanner for more than $1 million, but only allows the senior technologist to go for offsite training?

When organizations are planning for and forecasting the outcome of a capital outlay, they build return on investment analysis and model various scenarios. They predict increases in volume, reductions in cost, and workflow efficiencies. What they do not account for is the impact of untrained personnel. Next time you budget for capital, I implore you to weigh the following:

• Double the training investment allocated to the PACS Administrator or bear the cost of continued dependence upon film and lost referrals from dissatisfied referring physicians.

• Provide one-on-one training to radiologists when rolling out Speech Recognition, extra support during implementation, and refresher training or risk rejection of the technology and continued dependence on transcription services.

• Enable all of the CT technologists to get hands-on training and build a competency-based training program to ensure they have the skills they need or incur the cost of scanner downtime and decreased patient throughput from the untrained staff.

I hope that the next time you make a capital investment, you do not forget the human factor. Remember, to truly leverage your capital investment, you must invest in your staff. Positioning them for success will position you for success.

Nicole Pliner, MHSA, is managing director of Radiology Consulting Group, Boston, which offers management consulting services to hospital radiology departments, private practices, and freestanding imaging centers worldwide.