Communication is the cornerstone to every quality relationship. This is even truer when considering the doctor-patient relationship. Unfortunately, poor communication between doctors and radiation oncologists who are placing patient care in jeopardy due to a gap in multidisciplinary decision making, according to a recent study. (Source)
For example, radiation oncologists were often left out of the decision-making process in early stages of breast cancer treatment. When patients are uninformed of all their treatment options, this can potentially lead to more surgeries versus less invasive therapies.
Medical Imaging & Multidisciplinary Collaboration
Medical imaging technology could help ease the burden of sharing critical information between surgeon and radiologist and meet the patient’s needs most effectively by providing easy access to the patient’s entire imaging portfolio.
Although multidisciplinary collaboration is emerging as a standard in cancer care and treatment, the reality is that the vast majority of doctors and radiation oncologists do not communicate, despite access to a multidisciplinary board, writes Reshma Jagsi, MD, of the department of radiation oncology at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues, who designed and administered the survey.
Almost 30% of radiation oncologists stated that they were not included in treatment decisions early enough.
Radiology Oncologists Report a Disconnect
Medical imaging solutions exist to improve workflows and to help health care organizations manage the complexity of massive amounts of specialized medical imaging requests. But, technology can only do so much. If the people involved in cancer treatment don’t communicate and share information, the patient suffers and the institution places itself at risk.
It wasn’t only surgeons with whom radiology oncologists failed to connect. They cited barriers to collaboration with other physicians as well. Twenty percent (20%) of respondents reported the following challenges:
- Arranging to discuss patients’ treatment plans with a plastic surgeon;
- Arranging to have mammogram exams reviewed by a radiologist; and
- Arranging to have pathology slides reviewed by a pathologist.
The researchers suggested that the findings may “highlight a potential area for quality improvement in breast cancer care … [and] help motivate surgeons to consult with their radiation oncology colleagues earlier.”
Let’s Make Multidisciplinary Collaboration a Reality
Women with breast cancer face many complex decisions regarding treatment. Let’s not complicate things further. Why not find ways to encourage surgeons, physicians and radiology oncologists to work together and make collaboration a reality?