Information technology has changed the face of healthcare forever. Many patients already take advantage of the Internet to gather information and play an active role in and help advocate for their own healthcare. Electronic patient portals are provider-based applications managed by healthcare sites that allow patients access to their medical records including radiology images and reports. These types of portals are becoming more widely available and will be increasingly offered because patients will expect healthcare organizations to provide them access.
Electronic patient portals can be seen as a unique opportunity for radiologists. They offer a way to open two-way communication with patients that we have not had before. Patients can reach out to us using secure messaging services and ask questions about prior or upcoming imaging examinations. In response, we can provide personalized answers and guidance and, in the process, show the best possible face of radiology and make tangible the value of the input of radiologists to their diagnosis and treatment.
Electronic portals can greatly increase the integration of patients into their healthcare and increase their level of satisfaction with their radiology experience at the same time. From an operational perspective for imagers, better informed patients help reduce no-show rates, improve adherence to pre-procedural requirements and increase compliance with regular screening.
Electronic patient portals also offer an opportunity for radiologists to educate patients above and beyond simply answering questions. We can provide a broader exposure to a variety of subjects relevant to their health or illness.
Electronic patient portals help make clearer to patients the value of physicians with specialized training in radiology and educate them about what subspecialists like interventional radiologists actually do.
Radiologists should embrace electronic patient portals as a tool that has the potential to empower both patients and their physicians.
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