Radiologists are elusive to patients. Although they play a critical component in the healthcare trajectory of any individual, many patients will never come into direct contact with one. However, we know that patients do in fact want to interact with radiologists. Many studies have highlighted an interest among patients to hear results not only from their referring physician but also the radiologist, particularly in cases of complex diagnosis.
A recent case study on the American College of Radiology’s (ACR) resource library highlighted a facility that has begun adding radiologists’ phone numbers to patients’ reports. The ACR features these studies as part of Imaging 3.0, a program that focuses on value-based care and communication skills.
Radiologists with Diversified Radiology in Denver started including the reading room phone number in the reports given to referring physician. The initiative was met with much success and referring physicians appreciated the invitation to collaborate.
Slowly, they began to roll out the same initiative to patients as reports became available in a new patient portal. Initially, there were some concerns regarding volume and unfavorable responses from patients’ primary care physicians. However, the office has found the majority of the calls are simple clarifications helping patients to understand the jargon of radiology reports. This is a common problem, and a study in the American Journal of Roentgenology recently called for less jargon in MRI reports which can be among the most confusing for patients to understand. The adjustments suggested are often quite simple. For example, a report could read, swelling rather than edema, or normal rather than unremarkable.
At Diversified Radiology, there have been very few interruptions to workflow with a couple referring physician calls per day and even fewer patient calls. Diversified Radiology also saw their referring physician satisfaction rating skyrocket to 98% by the end of 2018. This small step of adding a phone number to reports has gone a long way to increase the accessibility of radiologists and the success of the practice.