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There’s a disparity between radiologists’ commitment to providing strong patient care, and the number of patients who feel they’re receiving adequate attention. Although many radiologists want to maintain an open rapport with their patients, an overwhelming workload often hinders them from engaging in high level communication with their clients. A new survey published in Radiology found that there’s a great disconnect in the campaign to promote patient care values, and what is actually being practiced.

The study’s lead author, Jennifer L. Kemp, MD, and her team surveyed 694 members of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) on an array of patient care questions.  They found that 611, or 89 percent, believed that “promoting awareness of radiology’s role in patients’ overall healthcare is important to how they practice.” Yet, despite maintaining these standards, only 31 percent of the respondents “regularly promote awareness of radiology’s role in patients’ overall healthcare.” More so, only 21 percent said that their regular duties include delivering image results in person.

The study determined that factors such as time constraints and demanding responsibilities impede radiologists from engaging full-spectrum, patient-centered communication. In fact, 421 members, or 73 percent, claimed that “time and/or workload frequently prevented them communicating directly with patients.”

Despite these disparaging results, according to the study, respondents stated that “personal sense of satisfaction” was the main reason for wanting to engage in stronger patient communication.

The study offers several solutions to encouraging more direct patient care, including adding reading rooms to subspecialty clinics, assigning radiologists to onsite departments where they’ll be more accessible for inquiring patients, and connecting patients to radiologists through social media platforms.

"Social media is where our patients are these days and where they get a lot of their medical information," Kemp said. "Using social media to interact with patients regarding medical imaging procedures does not take a lot of time for radiologists and can potentially reach a lot of people."

 

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