RSNA 2012 Recap: Radiology Imaging, Patients First


 Patient Radiology Scans It’s not the first time the concept of patient-centered radiology has been proposed, but what does it really mean?  It is hard sometimes to marry the alluring idea of patients being top priority with the need for Radiologists and hospitals to be profitable, all while meeting the complex requirements of state and national legislature.

Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD from Indiana University, a respected radiologist, professor and author gave a lecture Tuesday Nov 27 at RSNA called “The Story Behind the Image.”  The concept behind his presentation was that we are missing a degree of engagement in radiology imaging that is preventing us as a collective from achieving excellence.  He believes this hinges on our ability to see beyond the images that we display and read; that we must dive into the stories that patients bring to truly understand the importance of what we do and to have the insight to innovate.

This is an interesting concept, given that most radiologists engage very little with patients personally.  How would a radiologist go about discovering the stories of their patients, and where does that actually fit into and impact the quality of patient care?  We have already made great strides as technology providers, for now we can give a full patient medical record within the regular imaging diagnosis workflow.  Dr. Gunderman’s opinion is that while this allows radiologists to be precise, it does not necessarily allow them to be accurate.  He feels that by delving into the stories of their patients, radiologists are able to redefine what they do and fundamentally who they are as physicians, and that this discovery will make them better doctors.  I am intrigued about how this concept could impact technology providers.

What if we spent more time understanding radiology imaging from the perspective of the patients; not how their order is processed or how they are checked in but who they are and what they’re about?  Would this provide us with the ability to discover approaches to health care informatics that could revolutionize the industry and excite patients and providers alike?  I’m not sure that it’s possible or even realistic, but I am intrigued.

Feel free to share how you feel about this concept in the comments below.

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