A new approach: Audiovisual radiology reports earn high marks from physicians

Audiovisual radiology reports can provide significant value when used in addition to traditional reports, according to new findings published by the Journal of Digital Imaging.

“With recent decline in reimbursements and the transition towards value-based care and precision medicine, radiologists need better methods of communication with referring clinicians,” wrote Luís Pecci Neto, department of radiology at Hospital do Coração and Teleimagem in São Paulo, Brazil, and colleagues. “This may be a difficult realization because it antagonizes the constant urgency for expedited reporting and high volumes. However, it is paramount to improve communication with ordering physicians and focus on the patient’s experience in healthcare, such as recommended by the triple aim and also with the goals of the Affordable Care Act, particularly for inpatient medicine services.”

The authors developed a new reporting tool that records the radiologist’s audio and plays it over videos recorded using screen capture technology. The tool was then integrated into a hospital’s PACS, and seven attending musculoskeletal radiologists created videos for emergency department cases they read for two straight months.

“The creation of videos occurred after to the dictation of preliminary text reports,” the authors wrote. “The radiologist then opens the screen capture software and generates the video narrating and showing the radiologist’s workstation screen. Audiovisual reports were limited to 2 minutes in duration and focused on pertinent positives or negatives of a case.”

The study included 47 cases overall, and referring physicians answered two surveys about their experience. For the first survey, 100% said they “totally agreed” that the audiovisual report “answers the clinical suspicion.” In addition, 82% totally agreed that the new-look report makes changes easier to understand. When asked about speed, 76.2% of respondents thought audiovisual reports had a faster evaluation time. For high-complexity cases, that number jumped to 95.8%.

While 31.8% of referring physicians said they would be open to sending the audiovisual reports directly to patients and the patients’ families, 44.4% “totally disagreed” with that idea.

“One surprising observation of our study is that most referring physicians were not willing to share the audiovisual report with family or patients,” the authors wrote. “This may be due to an insecurity of the impact of this new technology in the patient’s understanding of the care by providers. In our opinion, a radiology report containing a video with the radiologist narrating and pointing to the findings is a great tool to increase the patient’s knowledge of their own condition and also reduces the anxiety that a technical text-only report may bring.”

Answering questions from the second survey, just 18.2% of referring physicians indicated they preferred the traditional radiology reports to audiovisual reports. And 72.8% of respondents suggested audiovisual reports may not be needed for low-complexity cases, though 100% agreed the new-look reports did help with complex cases.

“Our study suggests that the audiovisual report has potential to replace conventional text-based reports, as it showed to be easier and faster to understand and to answer clinical questions in all cases,” the authors wrote. “However, this technology may not be so useful in normal cases and does not include other minor findings that may be helpful in a medical legal setting.”