In honor of National Radiologic Technology Week’s theme ‘Discovering the Inside,’ I decided to take my own discovery into the inside of patients’ thoughts on MRIs. According to a recent study, in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, Twitter can be a handy tool when looking to gather patients’ medical experiences including MRI scans.
Jonathan Hewis, an investigator from Charles Sturt University in Australia analyzed 464 tweets related to MRIs over the course of a month. He found that patients, their family members, and friends, were sharing their personal experiences and thoughts about MRIs on Twitter. The tweets had three common themes: MRI appointment, scan experience, and diagnosis.
As of September 2015, Twitter has 320 million monthly active users and one billion unique visits monthly to sites with embedded tweets. Twitter’s ability to allow users to be ubiquitous, can provide crucial insights that practitioners would otherwise not be privy to. In fact, the study found many patients experience anxiety throughout the entire MRI process from scheduling the appointment to the diagnosis. Patients’ most stressful tweets were over the possibility of receiving bad news. Hewis explains, “The findings of this study indicate that anticipatory anxiety can manifest over an extended time period and that the focus can shift and change along the MRI journey.”
The study also found that as the procedure continued further along in the process, patients begin to have common worries including the cost, feelings of claustrophobia, and the MRI machine sound. Interestingly enough, words were not the only thing being tweeted about in regards to MRI scans. Pictures were also included in patients’ tweets. Hewis found that fifteen patients tweeted a selfie in their MRI gown!
This study is a clear indication that the last thing practitioners should do is put their patients through unnecessary duplicate imaging. According to a study from Weill Cornell Medical College, “timely sharing of patients’ medical records may result in fewer repeated imaging test.” Using a Cloud based image management platform like, DICOM Grid allows patients and physicians to access these images in real-time. Installing DICOM Grid’s image sharing gateways into your practice or hospitals network allows for automation of image sharing and better connections to outside facilities.