Survey explores what different types of referring providers want from radiologists: 6 takeaways

Most radiologists would probably prefer to read minds if they had the option. But absent that, a new survey is providing insights into what different referrers want from the specialty prior to ordering an exam.

Researchers with the Stanford University Department of Radiology recently administered the seven-question online survey to thousands of clinicians, including 349 in the final tally. The results suggest that there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to pleasing the varying providers in urgent, specialty, emergency and primary care, experts wrote June 29 in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

“The results of this study support the concept that referring providers tend to value different aspects of radiology services differently, according to predictable characteristics,” concluded radiologists David Larson, MD, MBA, and Gloria Hwang, MD. “The findings suggest that no single universal ideal radiology practice model likely exists, but rather that radiology practices should tailor the focus of their services according to the specific types of referring providers they serve.”

All told, those responding to the anonymous, annual survey of referrers included 54 emergency and urgent care clinicians, 81 primary care providers, and 205 in specialty services. Here are six quick takeaways that Larson and Hwang offered in their summary:

1) Speed: Urgent and emergent care providers want radiologists to perform and interpret studies more quickly than primary care. And PCPs desire more speed than specialists.

2) Specialization: Meanwhile, those in specialty care prefer greater levels of subspecialization in imaging care compared to the other groups of respondents.

3) Frequency: Urgent care clinicians appear to order imaging studies with greater regularity than their counterparts.

4) Breadth: Primary and urgent care providers order a wider variety of imaging studies than others.

5) Reliance: Primary care docs reported a greater reliance on radiologists’ interpretations than other physicians might. Those in specialty and urgent care said they feel more comfortable interpreting images on their own.

6) Communication: Across all survey respondents, referrers “highly value” direct interaction with radiologists.

“This study also underscores the notion that value in radiology is highly context specific,” the pair of authors added in their concluding remarks. “This implies that an important aspect of value of diagnostic radiology is to be found in the degree to which individual radiology practices adhere to basic time-honored principles of engaging with local referring providers, understanding their specific needs, and working to effectively and consistently meet those needs through excellent skill and service.”