How should a patient receive their radiology exam results? From their referring physician, radiologist, patient portal, or all of the above? And what happens when an incidental finding is found in an ED exam? Whose job is it to follow-up then? In a recent live webinar event hosted by Ambra Health, Miriam Szyncer-Taub, Consultant, The Advisory Board, discussed the impacts of value-based care and patient consumerism on radiology and how by putting the patient at the center of every decision we make, a true “patient-aware” network can be achieved. Throughout the webinar several poll questions were asked that clearly demonstrated different attitudes regarding radiology’s role in delivering patient care.
Does your organization allow patients to upload their prior imaging via the web?
Only 15% of those polled allow patients to upload prior medical imaging or outside medical imaging to a portal before their visit. Ambra Health CMO, Mini Peiris, discussed how St. Luke’s University Health Network is using Ambra to achieve patient care goals. Historically, medical images had been provided to patients and referring physicians on CDs – a costly and time-consuming process as patients needed to schedule a pick-time for their images and travel in-person to the patient records office. Today, CDs and DVDs are being phased out and medical image upload time through the cloud takes less than three minutes. Secure, electronic sharing of images provides a simple alternative to image distribution via CD and offers significant benefits to both care providers and patients. Once a patient shares medical images with St. Luke’s, they are given the ability to create an account to store medical images in a personal health record and upload imaging if necessary.
Which area has your facility focused on the most to create a patient aware environment?
Miriam discussed how value-based care has implemented a new set of quality metrics. As quality metrics become standard and patient consumerism grows, facilities must create a patient aware environment to keep up in this new market. 33% of attendees had undertaken several initiatives already including educating patients before, during, and after exams, implementing a patient portal, and offering physician follow-up. Miriam noted that imaging is frequently the entry to the health care system for patients but fear, misunderstanding, and unclear scheduling paths are the most common reasons why patients don’t follow through with imaging exams. So, how can we create a clearer workflow? Miriam suggested simple modifications including a friendly pre-appointment phone call to patients offering step-by-step instructions of what to expect and a number to call for questions or concerns. Then, upon patient arrival, making sure the patient understands why they are receiving that exam (understanding why their doctor has ordered an MRI vs. a CT etc). Finally, offer the patient clear expectations of when to expect results, how to expect them (patient portal or call from referring physician), and offer a card with a name and number to call if any questions should arise. These simple steps can go a long way to ease the nerves of a patient.
Does your organization offer patient portals today that include delivery of imaging related content? & When receiving imaging results, who do you think patients would prefer to receive results from?
We were excited to see that 57% of audience members had image-enabled their patient portals. Although 96.2% of patients would like to receive results in a portal, the results must be framed with context, Miriam noted, or they can cause more harm than good.
The majority of respondents also believed that patients should receive their results from a mix of the radiologist, referring physician, and patient portal. Miriam said, “you can ask radiologists to include a brief summary in patient-friendly language in their reports, or put a time delay on results showing up in the portal so the physician can consult the patient before they get access to their results.” Radiologists can also create workflows to check-back in on flagged cases and make sure that a referring physician has responded to the patient and that incidental findings have been addressed as well.
For more information on patient portals, check out the American College of Radiology’s Journal on patient focused care here.