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. If you missed the first four “C’s”, click the titles below to catch up on previous blogs.
The Fifth C: Complete
Perhaps the best way to explain the importance of creating a complete report is best summarized in the following study published just last year. “However, there are certain key principles to reporting the imaging findings, impression, and recommendations that serve as a guide and promote careful consideration about how reports are understood. The findings section should emphasize short, informative, and factual observations while avoiding inappropriate interpretation, excessive use of terms of perception, and redundancy. The impression is the thoughtful synthesis of the meaning of the findings leading to a diagnosis, a differential diagnosis, and management recommendations. Creating a clear and impactful impression allows a doctor to provide the highest level of clinical care and direction but takes time and effort beyond simply restating the findings. The impression should use language that is understandable, memorable, and actionable. Reporting skills require ongoing attention and must adapt to the evolving practice patterns and communication styles in chiropractic.” (3)
If a radiology report is not complete, then treatment is incomplete as well. Along with our four “C’s” of clarity, being correct, displaying an appropriate confidence level, and being concise, creating a complete report is the next step in continuing to achieve all the benefits mentioned above. But remember, clarity, being correct, displaying the appropriate confidence level, being concise, and being correct are only the first five “C’s” of communicating in a modern practice. Make sure you return to learn more about the other “C’s” in future blogs.
- 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]
- Armas RR. Letter: qualities of a good radiology report. AJR. 1998;170:1110. doi: 10.2214/ajr.170.4.9530077. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
- How to Create a Great Radiology Report. Michael P. Hartung , Ian C. Bickle, Frank Gaillard, Jeffrey P. Kanne. Published Online:Oct 1 2020https://doi.org/10.1148/rg.2020200020.