Certification for radiology administrators offered by AHRA; Plus, real-time patient feedback program
adiology administrators play a crucial role in the management of
medical imaging departments and imaging centers. In an effort to
enhance the value of the radiology administrator and to provide a
standardized assessment of the knowledge and performance of those
who fill this position, the American Healthcare Radiology
Administrators (AHRA) has developed a Certified Radiology
Administrator (CRA) Program.
"As far back as 10 years ago, the
AHRA began soliciting feedback from members about how to enhance
radiology administrators," said Thomas Redman, Director of Medical
Imaging, Prince William Hospital, Manassas, VA, and Chair of the
AHRA's Radiology Administration Certification Commission. "The
ideas considered included creating a degree program or an advanced
certification. Because many radiology administrators came up
through the technical ranks-many having been technologists at one
time-they were used to the idea of certification. It was a natural
progression for those reaching the administrative arena to say that
some sort of certification would enhance their status in the
Following a feasibility study and
other market research, including interviewing more than 400 AHRA
members, Redman recalls, "It was decided that a certification
program was the best opportunity to generate the greatest impact on
the industry, especially since there weren't any other
certification programs available in radiology administration."
Based on the data collected, the CRA
program was developed in 2001 with the help of a 5-year, $1 million
grant from Kodak Health Imaging (Rochester, NY). The first
certification exam was administered in July 2002.
"Some of the CRA objectives,"
ex-plained Redman, "were to raise the business acumen of imaging
administrators and to provide a standardized assessment of the
performance of a radiology administrator. We also wanted to
recognize professionals for their expertise and the way to get that
recognition in radiology management is through this certification
In order to obtain this
certification, radiology administration personnel must first
qualify to sit for the exam based on 7-point eligibility criteria.
Points are earned through education, experience, and/or credentials
(Table). Candidates must have at least 1 point earned through
education or have a minimum of 10 years' experience without an
education point. All experience must be in human radiology and a
maximum of 1 point can be obtained through inclusion in 1 of the
following registries: American Registry of Radiologic
Technologists, American Registry of Diagnostic Medical
Sonographers, or Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification
Once qualified, applicants can take
the test in a written format at the AHRA's Annual Meeting and
Exposition or in a computer-based format. The 2005 Summer exam will
be offered on Saturday, August 6th, before the 33rd Annual Meeting
and Exposition in San Antonio, TX. The Fall computer-based exam
will be held on Friday, November 4th, at 115 CompUSA testing
centers nationwide. Applications for that exam must be postmarked
by September 20, 2005. The cost for the exam is $300 plus a $50
application fee to verify eligibility. Applicants do not need to be
a member of the AHRA.
The test consists of 185 questions
based on 5 management domain areas:
- Human Resource Management
- Asset Resource Management
- Fiscal Management
- Operations Management
- Communication and Information Management
Approximately 30% of the questions are based on knowledge, 40%
test application skills (ie, problem solving), and 30% are
analysis."Once certified, CRAs need 36 continuing education (CE)
3 years to maintain their
credentials," explained Karen Guy, AHRA Communications Director.
"With the CRA process, we focus the CE on management and
leadership," added Redman. "In the technical arena, CE typically
focuses on specific skill sets or functions related to what you are
doing. For CRAs we say, 'Now you are in management. Now you are in
a leadership role, and we want you to focus on that.'"
To date, the exam has been
administered 8 times to a total of 586 people. Of those, 485 have
passed and may use the CRA credentials. "From those who have taken
the exam, we have heard that they get the personal satisfaction of
validating what they know and what they are doing," said
Looking forward, Redman said, "We
hope that this will become the standard in the industry; that in
the future, employers will look at this as a minimum qualification
to run an imaging department or a section of imaging modalities.
This program also shows colleagues and peers in other professions
that we meet a certain minimum standard of criteria and
HealthIntell offers real-time patient feedback
HealthIntell LLC (Wilmette, IL) is currently offering a
patient satisfaction tool designed to provide real-time feedback
to imaging centers.
PatientIntell is a survey program that uses e-mail,
in-center kiosks, and traditional paper surveys to obtain patient
assessments. The results are instantly available online.
The customizable surveys, explained HealthIntell's
President Patricia "typically ask about how the patient selected
the center, whether or not their referring physician gave them a
choice of imaging centers, how the scheduling process went, how
long they had to wait to get an appointment, how long they had to
wait before getting taken back for their procedure, how the front
desk staff was, how the technical staff was, whether the office
was clean, what their experience was like overall, and whether
they would recommend the center to a friend."
"If the survey is completed online, through a kiosk, or
via e-mail, the results are compiled in real time into online
reports," she said. Data from surveys returned in the mail are
compiled by staff members at HealthIntell and are also added to
The reports show each imaging department or center their
patients' assessment of their performance across a number of
criteria and how their center compares with similar imaging
centers in the database. "There are 6 different criteria that we
benchmark against: volume, modality, payer mix, staffing levels,
location, and ownership model," said Riskind.
HealthIntell's clients can access their reports at any
time via the company's web site using their own unique login.
This data can then be used by the imaging center to assess their
performance and to search for any problem areas. For example,
Riskind noted, "If an imaging center sees that they are having
problems in scheduling, they can modify the scheduling approach;
or if they see that there is a backlog, they can add
The company will also offer a product designed to solicit
feedback from referring physicians, PhysicianIntell. Riskind
explained, "We are developing a tool that is very similar to
PatientIntell that will allow the physician to complete a survey
online. We will then have those results compiled in real time for
participating centers." The online version of this tool is
expected to be available in September 2005.
"On the referring physician side, we have had great luck
in understanding the referring physicians' 'hot buttons' and what
to do differently," she explained. "In one particular case, we
saw that referring physicians who had a personal relationship
with the radiologists at an imaging center were much more apt to
be loyal and high referrers to that center. As a result, the
imaging center established an incentive program for their
radiologists to make more outbound calls instead of just faxing
results to the referring physician, to hold more 'lunch and
learns,' and to hold more symposia. Since then, they have seen a
dramatic change in the number of referrals they are getting. They
are now going to redo the survey using PhysicianIntell to measure
the impact that their outreach programs have had."
"Our biggest differentiator is that we try to compile the
data instantly so that you can see on a daily basis how your
performance is going," concluded Riskind. "We also capture
comments if a patient or a referring physician has specific
things to say. Sometimes the comments are the most helpful part.
If you use the information, you can actually make changes, save
money, and grow your business."