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    February 01, 2013

    Amid the Science Lies the Art of Treating Patients

    I have just returned from RSNA 2012 and I’m still feeling the enthusiasm of my colleagues as they expressed their commitment to the patient-centered theme woven throughout the meeting.

    Messages about putting our patients first resonated with a wide range of RSNA meeting attendees, from radiologists, physicists and radiologic technologists to exhibitors and the media covering the meeting. Many who heard 2012 RSNA President Dr. George Bisset’s presidential address exited the session with an enthusiasm about our profession that they hadn’t felt for some time.

    Dovetailing beautifully into the overtones of putting our patients first was the launch of RSNA’s campaign Radiology Cares: The Art of Patient Centered Practice. The campaign is the evolution of many patient-centered radiology courses, workshops and other activities presented through the years and is overseen by the Patient-Centered Radiology Steering Committee, which I’m honored to chair.

    Amid all the significant scientific and technologic breakthroughs we see in our field, it is essential for us to remember that there is an art to treating our patients. There is an art to understanding how our patients perceive their experiences in the radiology department and how we can make changes to positively affect those perceptions. There is an art to being both humanistic and scientific as we treat our patients and bring them the best of both worlds.

    Being patient-centered isn’t only about talking to your patients. And while it’s encouraged, it doesn’t even require that you talk to them. Being patient-centered means you’ve considered the patient experience holistically—from the first time they have contact with any member of your staff until the time they are given their reports—and into your follow-up communications.

    During the Radiology Cares launch at RSNA 2012 we asked attendees to join us in our pledge to put our patients first. Many of those who stopped by the booth said that they already practice patient-centered radiology, but they wanted to help build momentum by pledging. It is really more than a pledge—it’s a commitment to your patients. It’s an assurance that you will do all you can to treat them as you would treat a loved one.

    Dr. Richard Gunderman put it simply and succinctly in his Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology at RSNA 2012: We must see the patient behind the image.

    The RadiologyCares.org website provides tools to help you to actualize the concept of patient centeredness in your radiology practice. While you’re there, I encourage you to watch the short and entertaining Radiology Cares: The Untold Future videos on the site. And, of course, take the pledge!

    We’re interested to hear your thoughts about the movement to be patient centered. Please email your comments to RadiologyCares@rsna.org.

    Web Extras

    RSNA has created an entertaining three-episode series, “Radiology Cares: The Untold Future,” illustrating why you want to become more visible to your patients. In this series, you'll meet a radiology resident who gets a reality check to be more patient involved.

    Visit RSNA.org/Radiology_Cares.aspx.

    Mary C. Mahoney, M.D.
    Mary C. Mahoney, M.D., is director of breast imaging at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s Barrett Cancer Center and chair of RSNA’s Patient-centered Radiology Steering Committee.
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