Redesigning Patient Communication
Updates to RadiologyInfo.org make the site and content more user-friendly.
For 15 years, RadiologyInfo.org has been bringing information to the public about a wide range of radiology exams. The collaborative effort between RSNA and the ACR recently underwent a major redesign with two goals in mind: to offer seamless access on a variety of devices and to convey the information in a way that would be easier for the general public to digest.
Seeking Patient Input
Conceived in 1997 and operating since 2000, RadiologyInfo.org offers more than 200 radiologic procedure descriptions, disease/condition topics, and screening/wellness articles with easy-to-understand descriptions about what to expect from imaging exams, how to prepare, and more.
“Our research shows that in the past, the site has been a little bit daunting for the public,” said Geoffrey D. Rubin, MD, MBA, FACR, co-chair of the RSNA-ACR Public Information Website Committee that oversees RadiologyInfo.org. “With this redesign we have not sought to ‘dumb down’ or reduce the quality of content in any way — we have simply made the more advanced content available for secondary reading once the person has identified they want to know more.”
Keeping up with changing technology was central to the redesign, Rubin said. The site now adapts to any screen size regardless of whether a person is using a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet. “Everything about the way people access information has changed in the intervening years since we began RadiologyInfo.org,” said Elliot K. Fishman, MD, FACR, co-chair of the committee. “We wanted to be certain we were ahead of the curve, not behind it.”
Staying ahead of the curve also required a thorough vetting of the content on the site to make it as user- friendly as possible. The process began in 2013 with several rounds of focus groups and usability testing. The research sessions involved medical personnel and mem- bers of the general public interacting with the site and discussing how they research medical information.
One major undertaking involved the many videos on the site. Before the redesign, the videos were PowerPoint presentations with an audio overlay. New videos developed by the committee feature radiologists describing radiology procedures directly to viewers.
“We looked at what users said they wanted and took that to heart,” said Fishman, professor of radiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “With videos, users told us they wanted to see a real doctor explaining the information rather than a PowerPoint presentation. It was a very simple, but effective, change to make.”
Another change involved segmenting the content into two tiers. The first tier contains basic information about a partic- ular test. Focus group members indicated that sometimes they prefer easily digestible snippets of information to get a general idea about a particular exam. The second tier of information includes more in-depth procedure descriptions for users who want information beyond the basics, along with technical aspects of an exam.
“Even the names of some imaging tests can be daunting and scary or disorienting,” said Rubin, chair of the radiology department at Duke Clinical Research Institute. “Our goal is to demystify the tests so that patients and those who support those patients are as reasonably informed as possible to allay anxiety and concern.”
Bringing Information to Patients
The committee believes the redesign will lead to increased traffic, which will then help the site’s placement on Google searches, a key in differentiating it from myriad competitors. “It’s a Google world, where people expect to find what they’re looking for within one click,” Fishman said. “The redesign brings the site up to where it should be. Diseases haven’t changed, but we’ve learned how to present the information better.”
Rubin added that in an effort to maximize the value of the site, the committee encourages radiology practices and other medical professionals to emphasize the resource to their patients. Referring physicians can help their patients prepare for an exam by pointing them to the site so they arrive at the radiologist’s office ready.
“The site is really alive and evolving,” he said. “We don’t want it to become static. It will always be a work in progress.”
By Paul LaTour, senior communications manager at RSNA