RSNA 2021 Imaging Informatics Preview

Does patient image access affect radiologist workloads?

By Erik L. Ridley, staff writer

Sunday, November 28 | 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. | SSIN01-6 | Room E350
In this study, a multi-institutional research team found that patient access to radiology images on online patient portals tended not to affect radiologists very much.

Researchers led by presenter Dr. Hailey Choi of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) surveyed radiologists at three institutions with varying levels of patient image access on patient portals. The first institution shared all radiology and point-of-care imaging with patients on the patient portal, except for exams that could indicate pregnancy in teens. The second institution shared all radiographs and breast imaging, while the third institution shared all radiology, point-of-care, and endoscopic imaging.

Of the 254 radiologists who responded to the survey, 78.3% reported that patient access had no impact on their role as a radiologist and 9.6% indicated that it had a positive impact. The remaining 12.1% said it had a negative impact.

Nearly two-thirds of radiologists hadn't been approached yet by a patient for imaging-related concerns. And even those who did were typically contacted infrequently:

  • Once or twice (47.1%)
  • Three to four times a year (47.1%)
  • Three to four times a month (4.7%)

After reviewing the free-text comments in the surveys, the researchers found that 71 radiologists believed that patient access was a positive step toward transparent medicine. However, 17 radiologists felt that there was a need for workflow adjustments involving annotations and the wording of reports. Some radiologists also expressed concern over the potential for creating patient confusion or anxiety as well as adding more workload for radiologists and providers.

"Patients' access to their imaging exams through online portals did not significantly affect radiologists' workload, contrary to some perceived fears," the authors wrote. "Many radiologists are supportive of the change, and minor workflow alterations can be considered."

Check out this Sunday presentation to learn more.

Last Updated er 11/18/2021 4:05:19 PM