por John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | December 03, 2019
President Dr. Valerie P. Jackson of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) kicked off the organization’s 105th annual meeting this year with a presidential address in which she discussed the importance of patient and radiologist interactions.
Among the issues she pointed to were the need to communicate more directly with referred patients as well as referring physicians to help patients better understand their conditions and feel less anxious, and to reduce errors and speed up transmission of imaging results.
“Make a commitment to engage with at least one patient next week,” she told the audience of radiologists. “Even if it means doing something as simple as going to the waiting room and introducing yourself as their radiologist. I know not all of us are in that position, but there are other ways. No matter the setting, we should be alert to opportunities to connect with patients.”
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Jackson, a radiologist in Arizona who serves as executive director of the American Board of Radiology, partially attributed the lack of direct communication to the influence of technology. She encouraged her fellow radiologists to overcome this challenge by creating consultation clinics; developing tools with partners such as online patient portals or patient hotlines; asking patients for feedback on their experience; and doing things that put the patients at ease, such as providing a phone number for them to reach their radiologist.
“The key message is that there will be benefits for everyone in this equation: the radiologist, the referring physician, and the patient,” she said.
Also emphasizing the need to connect to patients more was Dr. Abraham Verghese, the Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Prostial Professor at Stanford University and speaker for the opening session lecture, who discussed how technologies have changed the way in which radiologists and other physicians view and deliver care to patients.
“I got into trouble with this article for saying that the patient in the bed has become a mere icon for the real patient who is in the computer. I coined a term for that entity in the computer and called it the iPatient. I said the iPatient is getting wonderful care all across America,” he said. “The real patient often wonders where is everyone, what is going on, when is anyone going to tell me anything. So we have a real disjunction between our perception of the patient as viewed on the computer and the actual patient experience.”
He asserts that the result will be four issues — patient dissatisfaction, physician wellness, medical errors and loss of ritual regarding how physicians examine, interact with and treat patients during exams.