Making a Difference

One New York City radiologist bucks convention to establish a patient rounding program at her hospital.

Dr Raoof ScreenshotJuly 2015

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We understand instinctively that all that glitters is not gold. Roundtrip airfare to Paris for just $150? Sure. A subscription to Wired for the one-time low cost of ten cents per month? We start looking for the strings.

So imagine my surprise when a radiologist emailed a few months ago describing how she’d successfully established a patient rounding program at her New York City hospitals. From scratch. I thought, “Uh-huh. Sure. So you’re telling me that you have devised a program where doctors, including yourself — a radiologist — come into direct contact with patients to improve their care?” Right. And I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

So I had to hop a flight up to New York City and see it for myself. And what I found upon arriving in Queens blew me away.

I spoke with the hospital president, the institution’s COO, the chair of family medicine, the associate chair of radiology, the medical director of an affiliated nursing home, and other assorted hospital and departmental administrators, all of whom said the same thing: the driving force behind this amazing program was Sabiha Raoof, MD, head of radiology for Jamaica and Flushing Hospitals in Queens.

MAD (Make a Difference) Rounds began as a collaboration between Raoof and a handful of departmental heads in 2012. The program is as simple as it is refreshingly unique: “We round in teams of three,” explains Raoof. “We listen to patients to see how their experience is going in the hospital.” And then, if a patient proves unhappy with their treatment, program participants work to improve their stay. MAD team members — who include not just physicians but everyone from housekeeping staff to lab workers to hospital administrators — volunteer one hour a day for five days out of every month.

Why invite hospital staff who don’t normally speak to patients to join physicians on the rounds? Participating in MAD Rounds, says Bruce J. Flanz, president of Jamaica and Flushing Hospitals, helps the staff to “put additional pieces together as they perform their normal jobs. They get a full view of what’s required to make the patient’s experience as complete as possible.”

Gideon Yoeli, MD, associate chair of radiology at Jamaica Hospital, explains that going on rounds has made him feel more invested in patient care. “There are times when we’ve interviewed a patient and then I looked at the name on the door and realized I just read their scan,” says Yoeli. “I don’t think it’s conscious, but I’m pretty sure when I go back to the workstation, there’s part of me that wants to do a better job. It makes it more real for you.”

The human touch is a dimension of patient care sorely missing in most radiology departments. Establishing a program like MAD Rounds is a way for radiologists to make themselves known to patients who often don’t even know they exist. In addition, as Raoof has proven, knocking down silos and inspiring physicians and non-physicians alike to spend more quality time with patients is a value-based initiative that any hospital, well-funded or not, can replicate to great effect.


By Chris Hobson, Imaging 3.0 content manager

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