Stuart Bentley-Hibbert, MD, PhD, MBA, Named Vice Chair of Access and Experience

Dr. Stuart Bentley-Hibbert
Dr. Stuart Bentley-Hibbert, associate professor of radiology and vice chair of access and experience. 

The Department of Radiology is pleased to announce Dr. Stuart Bentley-Hibbert's appointment as vice chair of access and experience. This new position strengthens the department's committment to providing the best diagnostic care to patients at Columbia University Irving Medial Center (CUIMC) and NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) by improving access to imaging across the institution.

Dr. Bentley-Hibbert, associate professor of radiology and chief of the Divisions of Abdominal and Cardiothoracic Imaging, will lead several new initiatives designed to facilitate scheduling of imaging exams. "Our goal is to ensure that state-of-the-art imaging, along with the vast expertise of our radiologists, is easy to access and available to physicians and their patients across the medical center," said Dr. Bentley-Hibbert. "Ultimately, we want to make sure that patients are receiving the best care possible."

Dr. Bentley-Hibbert joined the department in 2013. Prior to joining Columbia, he was an assistant professor of radiology at New York Medical College, where he also earned his PhD in experimental pathology. Dr. Bentley-Hibbert earned his MBA at Columbia University in 2019.

Q & A With Dr. Bentley-Hibbert

What role does the vice chair of access and experience play in the department and the institution?

My role as vice chair is to be the physician liaison within the radiology department as we embark on new initiatives to facilitate patient imaging. In general, the idea is to help our patients get imaged when they want and where they want, and also to help our referrers get their patients imaged when they want and where they want. We're a complex environment with many different imaging areas, and we want our patients to be imaged where we can share our expertise. This goes along NYP's initiative of "front door to care".

The idea is relatively simple. The practice is more complex, but we're bringing people on board who are experts and very experienced at coordinating the many moving parts that need to be addressed when a patient gets imaged. I'll be the physician lead with the authority to make the decisions—hence the vice chair role—but also the the experience to do it.

What specific initiatives are you working on now?

We're working on three initiatives, all of which are built upon the considerable expertise and hard work of our current scheduling staff. None of this would be possible without their hard work.

The first project, which we're working on right now, is bringing on three outreach coordinators to help with same-day scheduling. Their job is to be the front face of radiology with respect to getting patients scheduled the same day.

The second initiative we call referral self scheduling, which means that referring physician offices have access to our schedules and can schedule patients for imaging on their own, just like they schedule a followup visit. This has been implemented in about 20 different departments and divisions  and will continue to grow.

The last project, which is a hospital-wide initiative, is patient self-scheduling, and it's in a fledgling stage. At the Columbia campus, we're doing it just with ultrasound and plain films. So the patient sees their doctor, and the doctor orders an ultrasound. 30 minutes later, the patient gets a ping on their phone saying log onto Connect, and you can schedule your exam.

How has your experience as chief of two divisions informed your new role?

When I started at Columbia, there were four or five people in the body division. We're now at 17 plus five fellows. I love building, and I love fixing. Maintaining the status quo is not particularly interesting to me.

Over the last seven years working at Columbia, I've gained experience building up the division, seeing the pain points that the referrers have, understanding their needs, and understanding that their goal is to help their patients and that they want to send their patients to Columbia and NYP, but they also have a greater priority to get their patient imaged as seamlessly as possible. My job is to facilitate that both as an individual and as a department.

What does the future of access to imaging at Columbia and NYP look like to you?

I see us hiring more outreach coordinators and building upon the scheduling process to make it even easier. Hopefully that means bringing on more machines and increasing capacity.

How does all this lead to better patient care?

If you're a patient in discomfort, we don't want to send you away to have troubles getting an appointment for an imaging exam. We can image you now. We can answer your physician's questions now. Instead of leaving with a workup still in progress, you leave with your workup done. Instead of leaving with unanswered questions, you leave with your questions answered. And instead of leaving with the next step in treatment not happening, you leave with that next step in place.

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