The 5 most common mistakes to avoid in radiology quality improvement projects

Every radiology leader wants to strive for excellence and yet many quality improvement projects are destined for failure before they even get off the ground, especially in large organizations.

That’s according to a team of imaging experts from Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology, who have experience with “hundreds” of such endeavors. Detailing their lessons learned Thursday in JACR, the trio of physicians offered up five common mistakes to avoid at your own institution.

“The fundamental cause of failure for most improvement efforts can be summed up in one word: hubris,” David Larson, MD, MBA, a clinical professor of radiology and associate chair of quality improvement, and colleagues wrote Oct. 15. “Well-intentioned individuals rush headlong into making change, without respecting the difficulty of the endeavor or developing the skills needed to solve problems in complex environments.”

Here’s a quick look at Larson and company’s common pitfalls to avoid:

1) Leadership: The most prevalent mistake, they wrote, is chasing change without support from management. “Like it or not, success of performance improvement falls under the authority of the organizational leader,” the authors advised.

2) Resources: Bolstering quality is going to require time, capital and other contributions. “If those who are expected to make the change are provided with neither, the effort will likely fail.”

3) Method: For fledgling physicians started down this road for the first time, it helps to have a framework to follow. “Like the scientific method, the improvement method helps beginners avoid myriad ‘rookie mistakes’ like jumping to solutions,” Larson wrote.

4) Execution: Will alone won’t do. The pursuit of quality calls for skilled project management. “Performance improvement is about successfully doing; this requires skilled planning, coordination and monitoring.”

5) Culture: Experienced quality leaders know their team and organization and can anticipate reactions to improvement approaches. “Naïve individuals,” meanwhile, “are especially prone to fall into the trap of expecting others to change without being willing to change themselves.”

You can read Larson and colleagues advice in greater detail in the Journal of the American College of Radiology here.