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Do You Get Enough Face Time With Your Patients?

Strong patient communication is a priority for most radiologists, yet many find this goal to be squandered by bureaucratic expectations and technological demands. In a new survey from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), around three-quarters of participating radiologists felt that time constraints and imaging responsibilities deter them from direct patient communication.

The survey included 694 participating RSNA members, 611 of whom agreed that “promoting awareness of radiology’s role in patients’ overall health care is important to how they practice.” However, despite the overwhelming motivation to provide patient-centered services, only 31 percent said that their practices could successfully uphold that standard. The lack of patient communication has resulted in consequences in arenas such as research, funding, staff morale, and developing student interest.

“Radiologists are faced with extreme system complexity and administrative burden,” writes Jennifer Kemp, MD, FACR, who was one of the survey’s organizers. In a Philips-sponsored article published in Cardiovascular Business, she explains how technology has made radiologists feel lonelier, and less able to personally attend to the questions and anxieties of their patients.

Instead of tending to patients, radiologists feel obligated to tend to administrative tasks. “My colleagues and I often spend far too much time gathering information from disparate systems, finding imaging studies from different institutions, and chasing down clinical data from a patient’s history to make sure we have the right information to make a confident diagnostic decision,” said Kemp. Although having data points in place is critical to providing diagnoses and treatment plans, this kind of work takes away from time that could be spent with patients.

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