4 helpful tips for providing more patient-centered care in radiology

It is increasingly important for radiologists to provide care centered on patients and their families. In an article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, numerous specialists discussed their perspectives on how to best provide patient- and family-centered care (PFCC).

  1. Personalize the patient and their images.

Though changes are being made in the industry to increase the amount of patient contact, many radiologists still have little to none, which leaves them feeling increasingly removed or isolated. This then causes depersonalization and burnout, which can affect patient care.

One way to avoid such feelings? Remember that each image is connected to a patient who needs your help.

“As radiologists, we must fight the temptation to depersonalize images,” wrote co-author Cheri Canon, MD, with the University of Alabama in Birmingham. “Each pixel is of a patient, and although we may not always interact with our patients, we must always empathetically approach each case. This is how we place and keep the patient at the center of care.”

  1. Diversify and educate the workforce.

Radiology is a specialty that has a paucity of minority and female physicians. Hospital departments and imaging centers should look to recruit a more diverse provider population because that can help alleviate concerns patients and their families may have if they can identify with their providers.

Additionally, organizations should help radiologists learn more about the benefits of patient-centered care and research new ways to provide such care.

“Organizations should provide clinical radiologists with the time, space, and skills necessary to incorporate patient values and preferences into care,” Lucy Spalluto, MD, Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville. “In research, organizations should support investigations that aim to develop efficient and effective methods to capture patient-reported measures. In education, programs should teach trainees the link between patient- reported measures and quality of care.”

  1. Expose residents to PFCC.

For PFCC to become a part of radiology culture, it is necessary to start exposure early in radiologists’ careers—preferably during residency training. At present, the American College of Radiology PFCC Outreach and Education Committees are devising a curriculum and other resources for program directors to utilize in their residency programs.

“Program directors need to incorporate PFCC training into their curriculum over the entire four years of residency, not just as a one-time didactic to satisfy an ACGME milestone,” wrote co-author Carolynn Debenedectis, MD, University of Massachusetts in Worcester. “In addition, just teaching your resident about how to provide PFCC to patients is not enough; it is critical to teach them why PFCC is important and how providing it can positively impact them.”

  1. Connect with patients using radiology reports.

Providing patient-friendly radiology reports is a critical step in achieving PFCC as it provides an opportunity for a physician-patient relationship. Patient-centric radiology reports are easier to read for patients and can reduce patient anxiety, which will ultimately assist in achieving patient satisfaction.

“Including a phone number to call in the report and tracking appropriate metrics would be a good first start,” wrote co-author Andrea Borondy Kitts, MS, MPH, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. “With metrics showing value to patients, we can start to change the paradigm both advocating for reimbursement and empowering radiologists to interact directly with patients.”