Radiology professionals more prepared for change than their primary care counterparts

Radiology professionals are more prepared for change—and more specifically, implementing a new cancer screening program—than their primary care counterparts, according to survey results published Tuesday.

The massive Veterans Health Administration is now in the process of creating a low-dose CT for lung cancer initiative, aiming to address the highest Big C-related killer among vets. Doing so, however, is a complex endeavor requiring coordination among several specialties, VHA experts wrote in JACR.

To help prepare, those involved surveyed providers, staffers, radiology administrators and primary care team members at a single medical center to assess their readiness for change. They pinpointed a greater willingness among imaging staffers to navigate this process, which could prove useful during implementation, authors explained.

“The higher levels of readiness for change found among radiology health professionals and self-identified leaders can be leveraged to develop strategies to engage other specialties with lower levels of readiness and lower value of change,” radiologist Lucy Spalluto, MD, MPH, with the VHA-Tennessee Valley Health Care System’s Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, and colleagues wrote Jan. 6. “The findings of this study will directly inform our strategies and resource allocation to educate, inform, and engage health professionals outside of radiology in lung cancer screening.”

For the survey, the research team utilized Shea’s Organizational Readiness for Implementation Change scale, along with a similar tool to assess change valence. The latter helps to gauge team members’ belief that pursuing change is both beneficial and valuable to the organization. Both use a scale of 1-7, with the higher number representing greater openness to change. All told, 282 VHA employees completed the survey out of 523 contacted (a 54% response rate).

Spalluto et al. discovered higher ORIC scores among radiology staffers, averaging 5.48 compared to 5.07 among primary care. Meanwhile, change valence scores between radiology and primary care were similar, at averages of 5.65 and 5.37, respectively. Self-identified leaders in lung cancer screening had both higher ORIC scores (5.56) and change valence tallies (5.89) than either radiology or primary care team members, the survey found.

Those involved see this information as an important first step in rolling out their LDCT strategy, including allocating resources toward employee education and engagement.

“As with many innovations, the implementation of a new evidenced-based practice such as lung cancer screening is a complex endeavor that can benefit from a strategic and systematic approach,” Spalluto and colleagues wrote. “Understanding organizational readiness for change before implementation of complex evidence-based practices is of critical importance, as individuals in organizations with higher readiness for change are more likely to initiate change, be collaborative and cooperative, and exert greater effort to implement new evidence-based practices,” they added later.

You can read more of their analysis in the Journal of the American College of Radiology here.