Front and Center

Twitter-savvy radiologists use social media to uncover pro-patient solutions.

Providing valuable care to patients has always been a tenet of medicine. Because value means something different to everyone in health care — patient, doctor, and administrator — physicians must strive to create patient-based care that adheres to everyone's needs.

In February, the #JACR tweet chat discussed design thinking, featuring noted health design thinker Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, a pediatric endocrinologist and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan.

Design thinking, a methodological approach to innovation that is both creative and human-centered, can help with that. To help come up with these creative solutions, individuals and organizations often use social media as a forum for exchanging ideas.front and center 1

Read some of the highlights throughout the article to understand what problems radiologists face in incorporating design thinking and how radiologists can start incorporating patient participation in their practice.front and center 2

Communication is an issue often cited in value-based care; unsurprisingly, it is integral to the concept of design thinking in medicine as well. Participants in the chat noted that the radiologist does not always factor in the patient experience and instead remains a distant face in the dark room. This is an issue for incorporating design thinking as radiologists must seek to understand what it is that patients value before they can begin incorporating value-based tasks.

Additionally, the specialty often does not primarily interact with patients and instead speaks with the referring clinician. Communicating well with the clinician is still a vital part of value-based health care. However, patients often do not understand the findings in their images, or what those findings mean for their health.front and center 3

Design thinking can also relate to the burden of regulations that physicians have to follow. HIPAA, Meaningful Use, RVUs, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — radiologists must follow and satisfy all these requirements and more. A deluge of requirements to satisfy and procedures to follow often stifles any ability to think beyond the borders of current workflows.

Additionally, although many of these regulations are designed to provide quality care, it is easy to lose sight of the patient's needs in the process.

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How can you combat these obstacles and find creative solutions to help patients? Perhaps it means using "baby steps," as @TirathPatelMD said during the chat. First, it is important to identify what problems you may be facing: do you want to have more face-to-face time? Have you considered what patients might desire as the progress from the waiting room to the imaging suite?

From there, identify a solution and a strategy to tackle the problem. These can also be small steps. Above all, participants suggested getting input from patients. Patients know their obstacles best, so they are the best ones to consult. Consider using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to ask patients what they would like improved, and what you can do to help. You could also try creating a focus group of patients. By including patients in your design thinking process, you also show them that you are not just a specialist sitting in the dark, but a physician who is committed to being a central piece of the health care process.

By Meghan Edwards

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