Reporting is a very important aspect of the care delivered by radiologists, said senior author Dr. Garry Choy. Not only do referring physicians read radiology reports, so do other radiologists and, increasingly, patients.
"We need to therefore improve how we communicate, as very important healthcare decisions are made based on our report," Choy told AuntMinnie.com. "While we are adding capability to our CT scanners and innovating with lower and lower radiation doses, we must also innovate on the healthcare delivery side."
Because current reporting has limitations and has not advanced as it should, the researchers are proposing new ways to improve the radiologist's core deliverable.
To elicit structured feedback on actual radiology reports, they asked 104 patients to review eight deidentified reports, including two radiographs, two ultrasounds, two CTs, and two MRIs. The researchers found that patients don't understand radiology reports all that well, most commonly citing technical language and the long length of reports as problems.
The study's findings imply that there is "significant opportunity to better serve our patients and referrers through better reporting," Choy said.
For more details, check out the Thursday presentation by lead author Dr. Andrew Gunn.