Evelyn Y. Anthony, MD
Q: How do you make interacting with patients a priority?
As a Pediatric radiologist, I probably have more opportunities to connect with patients than many radiologists. One of my most memorable experiences was about two years ago.
A grateful father of a very ill NICU patient asked me to lead a prayer of thanksgiving with everyone in the fluoroscopy room after a negative VCUG. I had taken a couple moments to explain my findings during the exam. I knew the family needed to have good news — in this case, a negative study. The father then spontaneously asked for a prayer, and I agreed.
Most of my days are not like that one, but I do actively seek opportunities to complete the patient story beyond the imaging exam. We work closely with our technologists, who alert us to families who may need to meet with the radiologist. Even in short conversations with families, I am surprised that I may be the first physician to explain an exam and the larger implications of the results. I am sometimes the first to listen to their real fears and concerns about their child’s health. In other words, a patient is more than an imaging exam, and the more I tap into that truth, the better the experience for the patient and the better clinician I am. It keeps me human.
With the growing volume of imaging studies and the need to be efficient throughout a workday, radiologists can easily retreat to the reading room, away from patients and referring clinicians. By taking a few opportunities each day to walk through the waiting room, to talk with a family, to provide a preliminary result, or to join in multidisciplinary conferences, we move from being the invisible doctor to a valued member of the patient care team. In an Imaging 3.0™ world, the consultant role will matter as much as the study interpretation. Remembering that there is a larger story with every film will only make us better at what we do.