Radiology practices are struggling to settle the backlog of their elective imaging results built up due to the pandemic. Patients might want to consider some of the key factors in this matter, according to the New York Presbyterian Hospital survey, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR). The academic institution researchers surveyed almost 100 patients whose elective MRI test result was delayed in March-April. Tony Wong, MD, the corresponding author, and his colleagues extracted six key factors for providers receiving these consumers once again in the forthcoming months.
Wong, Chief of the Division of Musculoskeletal Radiology and a professor, along with his colleagues wrote in the research paper on November 2, 2020, “As patients start feeling that it would be safe to obtain their imaging examinations during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the factors may be considered by the radiology practices while developing new relevant strategies for conducting elective imaging.”
The study team targeted about 249 patients, with 99 of them completing their 22-questionnaire phone survey between June-July. Approximately 68% of respondents said that they felt deferrals in their imaging care did not have any effect on their overall health, whereas the equal percentage felt that it can be considered “fairly” safe or “extremely” safe to acquire imaging during this crisis. Yet another 53% observed no such difference in the safety of outpatient and hospital-based imaging centers, as per Wong and colleagues’ report.
The study team also pointed out six key safety factors from this survey, which includes:
- Staff friendliness
- Shorter wait time
- Social distancing
- Health screens
- Patient temperature check
- Being able to schedule radiology and imaging services on the day of the clinical visit
Implementing these aforementioned safety measures may be simple like preventing entry of patients to the controlled checkpoint, or making the waiting room seating arrangement more spacious. He also gave some examples to slate imaging appointments on the very same day as patients visit other providers, as requested by 71% of participants.
The team further added, “This could be a specific priority if it patients must travel long distance for visits to the tertiary care center. Even though there may be scheduling challenges that should be overcome to facilitate this, new strategies can be developed to leverage this changing landscape of the medical industry.” This was about telehealth visits at various imaging centers.
Even the smallest step could help, according to Wong and his colleagues, like calling patients and trying to resolve their queries before their appointment. Additionally, this was backed up by figures that 37% of participants of this survey chose to schedule their respective postponed imaging exams after participating in the survey.
The authors concluded by saying, “In an effort to establish a certain level of comfort for patients to ensure they return for their imaging, it is absolutely imperative not to overlook small interventions that can be effective.”
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