Better Communication In Diagnostic Imaging

Radiology stands at the center of the healthcare system. Almost everyone passes through the imaging department at one point in their life whether it’s for a simple medical test or advanced treatment techniques. In most cases, the department’s overall efficiency is highly dependent on effective communication between physicians. But why does this seem to be a problem?

There has been an apparent need to implement effective strategies that will make communication easier, quicker, and more effective. According to studies, more than 70% of physicians refer their first-hand patients to various facilities for further imaging procedures. These huge figures have been problematic with the radiologists citing that they face difficulties contacting the referring physicians. This is one of the most common forms of workflow disruption. Surveys conducted, however, reveal that both referring physicians and radiologists value communication.

Radiologists found out that a lot of time is spent in actual imaging duties, and this reduces the time that would have been used for communication with the referring physicians. The same case applies to the ordering physicians. Working hours are too long and busy to the extent of cutting off time for proper communication.

Another reason why there have been communication barriers is the disorganized patient-physician directory. Since there is minimal contact between the referring physician and the radiologist, the latter depends on the register to follow up on the patient reports. Most often, they will end up calling the wrong physicians or a physician who is no longer responsible for the patient at hand. With poor communication, the radiologist gets weary of the process and no longer follows up with the referring physician.

>> How Can The Process Be Improved?

Seeing that communication has become a problem in the radiology department, new products and technology have been developed and introduced to improve communication. PACS, for example, has a messaging function that allows radiologists to talk with the referring physicians instantly. Unlike the human mind that forgets, PACS repeatedly reviews the workflow in the office and utilizes business analytics to predict any holdups that could interrupt your radiology report turn-around time. With an effective system and an organized office, you are likely to have some spare time to invite over the referring physician and probably even the patient for physical meetings. This kind of close relationship between the three parties helps the patient build more trust in the medical system.

As mentioned earlier, complex and inconsistent directory systems contribute to the communication breakdown. Experts suggest a standardized and uniform radiology report be rolled out into the system for easy tracking. If the reports can show clearly who the current radiologist and ordering physician is for a particular patient, then we would have fewer communication problems. The report should also be clear and straightforward. Besides, communication is likely to improve significantly with the introduction of a product that’s compatible with different systems used in various facilities.

In other studies, communication breakdown arises due to radiologists’ diversity in how they dictate their imaging reports. They all tend to present their reports in different styles, which make it difficult for referring physicians to understand reports from different radiologists. The medical system may want to consider rolling out a program that will train radiologists on how to present their reports uniformly. The communication barriers can be dealt with if all radiologists would have a uniform way of preparing their reports.

On the other hand, radiologists believe that more communication could be improved if more information about the patient and medical requests could be revealed by the referring physicians. By indicating all the important details, the radiologist would keep constant contact with the referring physician if any critical results were to be obtained from the procedure. Also, these specific details would include a physician’s direct contact for effective communication. With improved collaboration, both physicians and radiologists would be better placed to provide conclusive results and quality healthcare services to the patients.

Improving communication seeks to improve patient care. Anytime an organization invests in good communication systems, it is able to deliver fast and consistent results. The radiology team will eventually help the referring physician to effectively serve his or her patient. In the modern-day healthcare sector where radiology assignments are on a massive scale, there is a need to seal all the gaps for improved services.