How Wikipedia may help patients understand their radiology reports

Wikipedia contains a significant number of articles and images that could be incorporated into the Patient-Oriented Radiology Reporter (PORTER) initiative, according to new research published in the Journal of Digital Imaging. This could then help patients understand the information included in their radiology reports. 

PORTER, a “lay-language” glossary of radiology-related terms, is used to annotate radiology reports to help patients better understand the results of their imaging procedures. PORTER has been successful as a clinical trial prototype, with approximately 77 percent of patients finding it to be helpful and 91 percent saying the illustrations were helpful.

Is it possible, the authors wondered, that Wikipedia could help make PORTER even more useful? 

“We believe that Wikipedia’s more detailed information may provide a useful counterpoint to the PORTER glossary’s simplified definitions,” wrote researchers Teresa Martin-Carreras, MD and Charles E. Kahn, Jr., MD, both of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

At the time of the study period, 4,090 concepts with definitions were a part of PORTER. The authors searched Wikipedia for pages relevant to those concepts and developed a semi-automated approach to identify images that may be relevant. 

To see if Wikipedia truly contained helpful information, a team of three reviewers was asked to select relevant images for 800 randomly selected concepts from the PORTER glossary. The team included a radiologist with 20 years of experience, a radiology resident and a college-educated adult with no medical background. Reviewers would select an image that they believed to be the most relevant and useful for a patient, choosing "none” if there were no relevant images.

Overall, images from the Wikipedia library matched 404 of 800 (51 percent) randomly selected concepts from PORTER.

“The current work allowed rapid and efficient selection of related Wikipedia articles and images to enhance the utility of an online glossary of radiology terms,” the researchers concluded. “Wikipedia articles were assigned for about 75 percent of total concepts in the PORTER glossary, and we estimate that suitable images can be assigned for 38 percent of all concepts. Work is underway to implement the online glossary into the patient portal in a large US health system, which will allow assessment of the utility of the Wikipedia links and illustrations.”