Communication is a key component of success, but perhaps never more so than in the health care professions. When you communicate clearly with your patients, you have a much greater chance to connect, educate, gain their trust, and thus achieve better patient compliance to treatment. And one of the best ways to communicate clearly with a patient is through a radiology report.
The important point to remember is that there are two major components to a radiology report. First is the interpretation of the study which involves the identification and recognition of the salient findings and using them to arrive at a diagnosis or a differential diagnosis (in other words, a suggested pathway for further investigation). The second component is the equally important element of communicating those findings and conclusions clearly, usefully, and unequivocally in a report. Mastering one component does not necessarily mean success in the other. (1)
Patients place a high value on procedural correctness and clear communication with their radiologist or the chiropractor as the de facto clinician in ordering and reading the x-ray images. Patients want and need information provided that outlines the procedures being ordered, an explanation of the results, and a personal consultation regarding the findings. A lack of or incomplete communication is often found to be a cause of dissatisfaction among patients and could suggest a means of improving patient outcomes as measured by Value-Based Health Care metrics.
Throughout the next seven blogs, we will look at the six “C’s” of effective communication in a modern chiropractic practice and those six lead to an important seventh we will begin to outline in our final blog. These six “C’s” are attributed to Armas in his study (2) of the qualities of a good radiology report.
The First C: Clarity
Traditionally, radiology reports have been compromised of text only, using just words to describe and communicate the meaning of the images. Research has proven that people process and retain information visually much more effectively than through words alone.
In short, words are processed sequentially in the short-term memory and images are incorporated directly into the long-term memory. It has only been in recent years that researchers have shown that incorporating key images into written radiology reports has proven effective. (3,4)
Without clarity, a radiology report is essentially useless. If the patient (or the doctor for that matter) cannot understand what the issue is, how can a treatment protocol possibly be outlined and shared? All the benefits we discussed above about patient trust and compliance go out the window if there is not clarity. But remember, clarity is only the first “C” of communicating in a modern practice. Make sure you return to learn more about the other “C’s” in future blogs.
1. Bosmans JML, Weyler JJ, De Schepper AM, Parizel PM. The radiology report as seen by radiologists and referring clinicians: results of the COVER and ROVER surveys. Radiology. 2011;259:184–195. doi: 10.1148/radiol.10101045. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
2. Armas RR. Letter: qualities of a good radiology report. AJR. 1998;170:1110. doi: 10.2214/ajr.170.4.9530077. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
3. Reiner BI. Strategies for radiology reporting and communication. Part 4: quality assurance and education. J Digit Imaging. 2014;27:1–6. doi: 10.1007/s10278-013-9656-x. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
4. Reiner BI. Strategies for radiology reporting and communication. Part 2: using visual imagery for enhanced and standardised communication. J Digit Imaging. 2013;26:838–842. doi: 10.1007/s10278-013-9630-7. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]