Patient Feedback On Radiology Reports


The evolution of radiology reports continues to be a hot topic among radiologists worldwide. Part two of this article discusses how patients interact with a radiology report. Read part one here.

While standardized reporting can lead to a better and more valuable patient experience, leaders are also breaking ground in communicating radiology results to patients.

Through experience, Arun Krishnaraj, MD, MPH, associate professor of radiology and medical imaging, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, has sensed “a great deal of frustration” with how patients interact with radiologists, in general, but more specifically, with how they interpret or interact with the radiology report.

Dr. Krishnaraj counts himself a fan of Amazon, not only because the outlet provides a massive number of products at reasonable prices, but because of the availability of individualized reviews guiding consumers before a purchase.

He pointed out that this model has now become ubiquitous and perhaps best illustrated by apps like Yelp. So, the question for Dr. Krishnaraj became, “Why don’t we routinely include surveys in our reports?”

In other words, why shouldn’t it be possible to give patients — and referring providers — the mechanism to easily provide radiologists with feedback on how they are serving their customers, said Dr. Krishnaraj, who presented a Fast 5 session at RSNA 2018, “Patient Feedback for Radiology Reports: Are We Prepared to Be Yelp’d?”

To test that premise, Dr. Krishnaraj and colleague A.J. Pesch III, MD, developed a novel website for collecting feedback from patients and referring providers through a survey link at the end of each imaging report. The survey asked who was providing the evaluation and whether they were satisfied, very satisfied, not satisfied or very dissatisfied with the service provided. Respondents were also given the opportunity to provide free text comments.

Dr. Krishnaraj expected most responses to come from referring providers, but, surprisingly, 75 percent came from patients.

“And the patient comments were very enlightening,” he said. One common complaint involved errors that appeared in reports. These were the kinds of errors that might have been due to a simple mistake, such as indicating a patient’s gall bladder was normal, when in fact, the patient’s gall bladder had been removed.

From a radiologist’s perspective that may have been just a click he forgot to erase, but from a patient’s perspective, this may be a grievous error — one that could lead to a loss of a faith in the radiologist and the health care system, Dr. Krishnaraj said.

Another common complaint was the patient’s inability to comprehend the report while realizing that the status of his/her condition hinges on what the report said. “Yet, the report uses terminology that makes no sense to the patient,” he said.

This led to a next step — creating a patient-friendly radiology report that is currently being tested. According to Dr. Krishnaraj, this report contains terminology that is accessible, rich in infographics and is actionable.

“What started with including surveys in the report, grew into using that survey data to answer the need and the demand that is being promoted by patients,” Dr. Krishnaraj said. “The message is that patients are an important stakeholder who receive a key piece of information based on the radiologists’ assessment. They want that report available in an easy to understand format.”

Read part one of this story to learn how radiology reporting advancements are pushing for transparency and wide-reaching communication among radiologists and patients.