According to a new study conducted by researchers from Ohio, Wisconsin, California, and Massachusetts, radiologists want to provide more patient-centric care, despite time and workload constraints. The lead author recognizes the importance of improving everything from appointment scheduling to radiology medical billing services to enhance the patient’s experience.

Researchers invited more than 5000 members of the Radiology Society of North America to complete an anonymous online questionnaire to assess their attitudes and experiences concerning patient-centered radiology. Up to 694 radiologists responded. They identified aspects of centered care important to their practice, reported on their interactions with patients, and shared their views on radiologist-patient communication. The results of the study were published in Radiology:

  • 89% (611 of 684) of the respondents agreed that promoting awareness of the role of radiology in patients’ overall health care is important to how they practice
  • 73% (421 of 575) reported that time or workload frequently prevented them from communicating directly with patients
  • Seventy-four percent (423 of 572) reported that a personal sense of satisfaction was likely to motivate them to communicate more directly with patients
  • Many providers said that changes to reimbursement and compensation would help them communicate with patients more directly

The team concluded that radiologists are seeking to provide patient-centered care but that they need to overcome the obstacles that prevented them from achieving this goal.

According to the RSNA, patient-centered care in radiology involves five elements: communication, high-functioning, access, supportive technology, and patient-friendly environment.

  • Communication
    • Communication must be honest and consistent
    • Communicate in a way that the patient understands
    • Welcome participation of family and caregivers
    • Ensure that the correct exam is scheduled and communicate patient preparation instructions before the patient arrives
    • Listen to patients before informing them about the procedure
  • High-functioning
    • Pay attention to patient waiting times and schedule imaging studies in appropriate time slots, taking account of individual needs
    • Complete all protocols before the patient get to the department
    • Personalize the scheduling experience for patients – medical billing companies use advanced software to provide efficient patient appointment scheduling solutions
    • Transparency in cost and billing
  • Patient centric Approach

  • Access
    • Have electronic patient portals to improve patient access to their radiology reports
    • Revamp report dictation and reporting of results to referring physicians
    • Avoid jargon that might seem offensive to patients
    • Ensure accurate reports in the appropriate template
    • Radiologists may need to be available to answer patients’ questions about results
  • Supportive technology
    • Informatics to help physicians identify appropriateness of exam for the patient and provide diagnostic support
    • Diagnostic decision support for the decision process
    • Diagnostic decision support incorporating patient history with imaging results to help radiologists improve patient centered care
  • Patient-friendly environment
    • Set up patient experience teams comprising physicians, technologists, trainees and staff to make suggestions to improve the patient experience
    • Create patient focus groups to understand and learn from their experiences
    • Treat patients with courtesy and follow-up with them after the procedure

As the RSNA-based study found, radiologists face many challenges when it comes to implementing patient-centric care. Technology is advancing by the day and radiologists need to be on top of the improvements in post-processing, big-data handling and image-guided diagnostic tools. They also have to adapt to the transition from fee-for-service to the value-based payment model. A coordinated effort is necessary to succeed in quality, safety and performance improvement.

Like many other specialties, radiology centers also face ICD-10 coding challenges and issues related to the bundling and elimination of CPT codes. The support of an experienced radiology medical billing company can prove invaluable when it comes to addressing reimbursement issues and ensuring transparent pricing and billing. Outsourcing medical billing and coding can help radiologists manage their time better and reduce their administrative workload. This will allow them to focus on providing more patient-centric, value-based healthcare as experts take care of their bottom line.