Patients today are taking a more active role in their health, and in response to this, more emphasis is being made to keep the patient at the centre of care. Especially in radiology, more areas of the field are focussing on patient-centred healthcare experiences. Initiatives such as the co-location of radiologists and clinicians and creating easy-to-understand radiology reports are just an example of how radiology is becoming more customer-focused.
Radiologists in Clinical Areas
Department chair of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Amy K. Hara, MD, explains how the radiology department here has adopted the Model of Care established by the Mayo Clinic. By valuing compassionate and high-quality care, the radiology department is trying to maintain patients at the centre.
One of the main ways the Mayo Clinic’s radiology department is implementing this is by embedding radiologists along with physicians in clinical areas. By co-locating healthcare services, it facilitates open discussions with both of these healthcare professionals, allowing them to predict the best outcomes and further treatments for the patient.
Another initiative from the Mayo Clinic’s radiology department is longer imaging hours. Also, in response to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements, the Mayo Clinic has implemented dedicated dense breast clinics allowing patients to connect directly with dense breast imagers.
Through the work of their patient focus group, Mayo Clinic is currently working on producing radiology reports in layperson’s terms, to facilitate further communication between patients and radiologists.
Keeping Paediatric Radiology Family-Centred
At the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio, the paediatric radiology department understands the need to include the family during radiology appointments. Alexander Towbin, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s radiology department explains the hospital’s programme which involves sharing imaging results immediately with the family, and also the process for delivering difficult news. Dr. Towbin emphasises the benefits of the radiologists guiding further treatment and shepherding the family and patient’s journey by collaborating with referring physicians.
The EHR portal also offers the opportunity for radiologists to pass information to the patients indirectly. However, Dr. Towbin agrees that creating patient-friendly reports is ongoing. There is the complication of needing to balance the patient’s understanding with the appropriate information needed for the referring physician to continue treatment.
The Center for Practice Information (CPX) implemented by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is an initiative with the aim of reimagining care delivery. The focus is to remain on the patient whilst also reducing costs and improving the clinician experience.
Tessa Cook, MD, PhD, co-director of CPX, discusses how CPX is needed to identify where improvements can be made for the radiology patient, and how we can use technology to implement this. The CPX innovation challenge asked for suggestions which would improve the radiology services at the hospital, and whilst this is still ongoing, Dr. Cook proved hopeful about its success. CPX is also on a mission to simplify radiology reports, and whilst this is also an ongoing task, the desire is to make these reports more accessible to the patient.
Even before the implementation of CPX, the hospital’s radiology department had taken steps to improve the patient experience. Through changing the outpatient imaging area and reducing gadolinium exposure for multiple sclerosis patients, efforts were being made already to keep the patient at the centre.
Ideas for improvements in the radiology department need to come from everyone in the radiology department. From physicians to administrators, it is important to include everyone that is involved in the process, especially the patient. Dr. Towbin agrees that patient feedback is especially important, as it gives an idea as to where to focus and what can be implemented to further improve the patient experience.
Image Credit: RSNA