Healthcare Reform, Digital X-Ray and Continuing Education Opinion from Chile

May 4, 2012
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Boris Alvarez

Boris Alvarez, project consultant, Medical Technology School, Universidad San Sebastián

Boris Alvarez

Boris Alvarez, project consultant, Medical Technology School, Universidad San Sebastián

Editor’s Note: Boris Alvarez, project consultant for Medical Technology School, Universidad San Sebastián , in Santiago Chile, shared his thoughts with us on the difference between public and private healthcare, digital x-ray technology and the importance of continuing education and networking.

Q: Having lived in both the United States and Chile, can you give us a snapshot of the differences you see in planned healthcare reforms?

In my opinion, healthcare reforms in both countries address the need to achieve better access to care, especially for those more vulnerable citizens.

On one hand, the USA has been the most important country in the development of technologies for the whole world. This is increasing healthcare costs by transferring research costs to American patients. The US government expects to use strategies that reduce healthcare prices for the population with fewer alternatives to pay for it.

In contrast, the Chilean government is addressing healthcare access through a framework that allows public and private investment to give access to better technology to the people who can not afford it.

I think the biggest challenges for healthcare institutions are in their capacity to adapt to the new scenario. In the American case, institutions must be able to fit their cost structure in order to be more competitive. In the Chilean case, institutions must follow the technologic vanguard, in spite of the limitations in budget of the Chilean market.

 

Q: From your experience, what are the top 3 ‘must have included actions’ to perform a successful installation of a digital system in the radiology department?

I think three basic points allow a successful installation of a digital system:

  1. Planning
  2. Vendor selection
  3. Implementation team leader selection

Thoughtful planning exists where there are clear objectives, as well as scope and budget. Planning contributes to a successful implementation. Additionally, selecting the right vendor that works as partner, in which you can trust that the choice of the product fits the institution needs, as well as the delivery of a service that allows seamless and uninterrupted work by the radiology department. Finally, a team leader that is able to accomplish the planned objectives and take the right decisions in moments that challenge the achievement of the goals.

Q: What’s your advice to radiology departments to keep successful Quality Systems?

My advice is “always consider that clients evolve in their requirements.” Considering that, you can realize that quality criteria also changes over time. Radiology departments must obtain continuous feedback from customers (both patients and referring clinicians). This information will be basic to redesign processes that allow keeping successful quality systems within the institution.

Q: You coach Medical Technology students – what trends do you see evolving?

An important change in the Chilean educational industry during the last twenty years is that the number of universities during this time has increased over 1000% — due to the augmentation of private universities. With this change, undergraduate education is available to many students that previously wouldn’t have access. Some students that register to low-selectivity-criteria colleges are disadvantaged in the soft-skills repertory which causes lower employability ratios and lower salaries. As a coach, I consider these skills as basic requirements for students to develop. These behaviors will give the individuals more opportunities including access to higher education and access to broader job opportunities.