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 “C”, click here to start at our first blog in this series.
The Second C: Correct
Accuracy in your report is critical for building patient trust and treatment compliance. A 2017 study found that in a review of 378 radiology reports “originating from a single department in a single 24-hour period, found that 90 reports contained errors. Seven errors were considered significant and nine were ‘very significant.’” The study also found that mistakes were more frequent in reports involving more complex studies and the “error rate correlated with the length of the report (longer reports contained a higher rate of errors per page.” (3)
A great way to maintain the accuracy of your reports is using software technology. Radiology reports have evolved in recent years to include both the x-ray images and schematics or charts to help point out analysis in a visual manner as studies have shown it is an effective educational tool and beneficial to the patient according to the Journal of Digital Imaging.
If a radiology report is not correct, then the treatment protocol will not be correct, and the patient will not get the results they are expecting. Along with our first “C” of clarity, creating a correct report is the next step in achieving all the benefits mentioned above. But remember, clarity and being correct are only the first two “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]
- Motyer R, Liddy S, Torreggiani W, Buckley O (2017) Frequency & analysis of non-clinical errors made in radiology reports using the National Integrated Medical Imaging System voice recognition dictation software. ECR 2017, C-1853 (poster). 10.1594/ecr2017/C-1853 [PubMed]