We are all familiar with the Emory Healthcare Care Transformation Model that puts the patient and his/her family front and center. Patient and family-centered care is based on four principles: 1) respect and dignity, 2) information sharing, 3) participation, and 4) collaboration. We continue to work together and with the guidance of our dedicated Emory Radiology patient and family advisors to enhance our commitment to these principles. Recently we took a big step forward in the second of these principles (i.e., information sharing) by providing our patients with access to a subset of the radiologists’ reports on their exams.
In this initial phase of our Patient Portal initiative, patients are able to review the full report on plain film radiographs and mammography. Eventually all exam reports will be accessible to patients, with appropriate controls for certain new diagnoses. Patients are increasingly and understandably demanding broad access to their health care records, and thus it is an opportune time for us to strengthen our relationship and communication with our patients.
In our journey toward truly patient and family-centered radiology, we need to consider further leveraging channels for patient communication. Are our reports worded in a standardized and readable format for patients to understand? Are we accountable for fielding questions by patients on their imaging studies? The RSNA Radiology Cares Pledge encourages us to both “provide practical explanations, as needed, of [our] reports for common understanding between physicians and patients,” and to “continue learning more effective ways to communicate with patients and referring physicians.”
In this first phase of the Patient Portal initiative, patients with questions about their imaging examination are directed to the ordering physician. This workflow may not be fully inclusive of our commitment to patient and family-centered radiology. As we move further along in our journey, we must step boldly forward and be both accountable and responsive to patients who benefit from our imaging expertise.
Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD, FACR
Chair of Radiology and Imaging Sciences