Enhancing same-day access to magnetic resonance imaging

J Am Coll Radiol. 2011 Sep;8(9):649-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2011.04.001.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to provide better patient access to MRI within 24 hours through process improvement.

Methods: The MRI process in an academic radiology department was examined. Customer value was determined using a Kano questionnaire. Current state process and performance data were measured. Process time and process value mapping were conducted. Underlying root causes that hampered MRI process flow were identified and prioritized using a fishbone diagram and failure mode and effect analysis. Statistical analysis, queuing theory, and statistical process control were used to describe and understand process behaviors, to test hypotheses, to validate solutions, and to monitor results.

Results: Timely access to MRI examinations within 24 hours was identified as a key customer value. A total of 33 failure modes leading to process wastes, together with 113 potential failure causes, were worked out, of which 14 failure modes were prioritized and dealt with. Having improved the process, patient access within 24 hours increased from 53% to >90%. The mean cycle time was reduced from 52 to 39 minutes. The monthly throughput increased by 38%. Scanner productivity was increased by 32%. Revenue and savings are estimated to be about €247,000 in the first year, after subtracting all costs.

Conclusions: Patient access to MRI within 24 hours has been granted for >90% of requests. Improved productivity and cost saving are achieved simultaneously.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Radiology Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Total Quality Management