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 three “C’s”, click the titles below to catch up on previous blogs.
The Fourth C: Concise
It is also important to keep things brief, yet specific. Consider following this outline when composing your radiology report:
- Heading to include patient demographics of age and dates of image acquisition and clinic info.
- Comparison (if applicable)
- Clinical History (if applicable)
A great resource for various templates is RadReport.org, a website housing a free library of templates based on best practices. For spine radiographic utilization and analysis, the best website is RadEvidence.Org that contains more than 400 articles related to the use of x-rays in practice, safety, as well as a chiropractic survey with the opinions of more than 3500 DC’s on the use of radiographic procedures in the chiropractic practice.
If a radiology report is long winded and pages and pages long, the patient isn’t going to understand the complexities of the issue and may not understand the importance of the treatment protocol you are prescribing. Along with our three “C’s” of clarity, being correct, displaying an appropriate confidence level, being concise is the next step in continuing to achieve all the benefits mentioned above. But remember, clarity, being correct, displaying the appropriate confidence level, and being concise are only the first four “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]