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 Sixth C: Consistent
Consistency in format and word choice are also extremely important. You certainly do not want to confuse your patients or other health care practitioners who may be reading the report. A great resource to follow is to follow the guidance as defined by the American College of Radiology Practice Guideline for Communication. They advise including elements such as patient identifiers, imaging procedure descriptions, clinical indications, imaging findings, and summary information. This is another reason that having a template and macros in your technology makes the report generation fast, customized, and accurate. A macro is a predetermined sentence or phrase that can be reused in multiple cases and selected from a repository or software system used to create the radiology report. The doctor can select the appropriate and applicable macro for the findings or recommendation section as a standalone macro or tweak that macro for the current patient which saves time and helps with accuracy and consistency.
If a radiology report is not consistent, then treatment is not going to be consistent, and results are not going to be consistent. Along with our five “C’s” of clarity, being correct, displaying an appropriate confidence level, being concise and correct, creating a consistent 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 correct, are only the first six “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]