Patient Web Portals Give Radiologists
More Opportunities to Improve
Hani H. Abujudeh
Department of Radiology and
Outpatient Diagnostic Testing
Cooper University Hospital of
Web Portals continues on p. 15
Radiology reports have traditionally been communica- tions between radiologists and referring physicians, but his paradigm is changing due to the rapid development
of web-based patient portals that allow patients to directly access medical records.
An examination of studies available about patient portals and
their use in radiology reporting reveals that radiologists have an
opportunity to engage with patients using this new technology.
Hani H. Abujudeh of Cooper University Hospital of Rowan
University reviewed studies on the use of online portals in radiology, along with patient and physician preferences and their impact on radiology reporting.
The percentage of patients who access radiology reports via
web portals grew to 51% in one 2016 study, and additional studies
have shown that there is a clear patient preference to have web access to radiology reports. Abujudeh notes that patient portals have
been shown to have a positive effect on the delivery of medical care
at a broad level on the basis of limited data. For example, chronic
disease management has shown improved medication adherence
for patients with portal access.
As recently as 2014, a survey indicated that only one-third of
patients with access to patient portals actually use them. Another
third were unsure whether they had access. Some of the report-
ed patient concerns about portals included fear of lack of confi-
dentiality of personal health data or a poor initial experience
with a user-unfriendly design.
As patient use of portals has increased, however, patients
have shown interest in accessing laboratory results and radiology reports. Allowing patients access to radiology reports is
not mandated outside of mammography and referring physicians may keep autonomy over the release of radiology reports to patients via the portal. By taking into account the
preferences of patients and referring physicians, there are potential areas of communications improvement that radiologists can target.
In addition, there has not been a report of a significant impact
on radiologists’ time or resources, and more research is needed
to understand how deeply these communication tools can permeate the radiologist workflow.
In an interview with InPractice, Abujudeh shared additional
insights into the research, with some advice to radiologists on
how they can improve their communication in order to engage
with physicians and patients via online portals.
With radiologists now transitioning to greater
communication with patients, what will radiologists
need to emphasize or keep in mind when they
communicate with patients?
Communication with patients is a skill that doctors get trained
in early in their careers. We have to relearn those skills.
While communicating with patients, we have to keep in
mind to exercise kindness and compassion, hone our listening
abilities, and speak in a way and a language our patients understand. Radiologists should not hesitate to repeat things if necessary, to simplify complex conditions, to keep our composure
with difficult patients, and finally not to forget to ask them if
they have any questions.
Patients seem to have a preference for having access to not
only the radiologist’s report but their images as well. What kind
of challenge does this present for radiologists to communicate
about the images in lay terms?
Radiologists have to practice, practice, and practice speaking
in lay terms. A radiologist using lay terms will help the patient
feel comfortable with the message to be delivered.
While communicating with patients, we have to
keep in mind to exercise kindness and compassion,
hone our listening abilities, and speak in a way
and a language our patients understand.