December 2011

Pittsburgh’s Other Pirates
By Jim Knaub
Radiology Today
Vol. 12 No. 12 P. 4

At Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the scanner in CT room 2 looks like a pirate ship. The department’s walls look like the administration hired out-of-work Warner Brothers cartoonists to paint them. The walls are adorned with beaches, palm trees, and a walrus.

My first reaction when I saw the photos was that it all seemed like a little much. I sort of expected to read an article full of platitudes and generalizations about creating a more comfortable environment for children. But when I read Kathy Hardy’s article on Children’s Hospital’s pediatric imaging department, that perception walked the plank, to use the pirate parlance. In the two years since the hospital launched its kid-friendly imaging suites, exam volume increased 18% while the number of cases requiring pediatric sedation decreased 97%—from 351 in 2005 to nine in 2007. Going from just about one each day to less than one per month is pretty impressive.

“We’re distracting the patients from what we’re doing around them,” nuclear medicine technologist Jennifer Conver, CNMT, RT(N), told Radiology Today. “We’re helping them to focus on things that are fun and creative rather than machines and noises and other things that might be scary for them.”

While you can’t use a pirate theme to decorate an imaging suite in a small hospital serving patients of all ages, it makes good sense for a children’s hospital seeking to differentiate itself from other facilities as the place for pediatric care. And it’s not just good marketing; less sedation and better images translates to improved healthcare, too.

In a challenging and changing imaging landscape, good marketing and truly quality care may prove the keys to ongoing success. Animated piracy probably won’t be part of your business plan, but there may be some changes your practice or facility could make to provide better healthcare and customer service. If you’re attending RSNA, keep an eye out for such an idea that you could take back to your practice or facility. While you’re in Chicago, stop by and meet the Radiology Today team at booth 8937.

Enjoy the issue.