Q: How do you make interacting with patients a priority?
When most physicians applied to medical school, they stated during their interviews that they wanted to go into medicine to help patients.
Forty years ago, radiologists were the "doctor's doctor," discussing patient issues with referring clinician teams in the morning on rounds; routinely interacting with patients undergoing such general procedures as upper GI exams and barium enemas; and making themselves available to answer patients' imaging questions in person.
With the digital transformation of radiology, radiologists have progressively decreased their interactions with patients. Interactive procedures with patients such as upper gastrointestinal series, barium enemas, and intravenous pyelograms have been replaced by other imaging studies, such as CT, that require little patient interaction. The face of radiology in these types of studies is often the technologist, not the physician. With voice recognition systems and electronic medical records, referring clinicians often remotely receive typed reports in minutes on mobile devices.
“Patients are the customers in the healthcare business model, and as in any other business model in which there is choice, customer experience and satisfaction must be high for the customer to return.” — Jay R. Parikh, MD, FACR
Radiology as a profession has increasingly lost both visibility and credibility with patients and referring clinicians. The commoditization of radiology has led hospitals in many states to not renew contracts with longstanding radiology groups in favor of radiology groups who remotely read the images. Patients are the customers in the health-care business model, and as in any other business model in which there is choice, customer experience and satisfaction must be high for the customer to return. For our specialty to survive, radiologists need to increasingly step up and step away from the reading room and humbly serve our customers — the patients.
Jay R. Parikh, MD, FACR
Breast imager at Swedish Health Center, Seattle
Councilor, Washington State ACR Chapter