Patient Satisfaction: From Massages to DICOM

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 - Lisa Fratt - Portrait
Lisa Fratt, Editor

Patient satisfaction has become the metric du jour in imaging. That’s why it figures prominently in this issue.

Health Imaging dives in, exploring the strategies that organizations have implemented to understand, draw and hold on to patients.

This month’s guest column is penned by a radiologist whose practice has taken the bold initiative of posting and publicizing cash-pay prices, with the primary objective of transparency for patients.

Massages, marketing and mammogram merrymakings represent one angle in the patient satisfaction equation. Another is safety. With nearly two million healthcare-associated infections occurring annually in the U.S., prevention has taken center stage. Portable imaging not only provides a means of transporting imaging services but also a potential mechanism for conveying bacteria across the enterprise. We review practices to reduce the risk of transmission in portable imaging.

Other angles on patient satisfaction are decidedly clinical and run the gamut from providing novel interventional oncology therapies like radioembolization and cryoablation, and transcatheter procedures. Imaging, informatics and capital-intensive hybrid operating rooms set the stage for the latter. Health Imaging dissects best practices for planning hybrid suites in this month’s cover story.

But there is another, oft-overlooked angle to patient satisfaction.

John D. Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, eloquently exposed it in his Dec. 21, 2011, blog dubbing DICOM a non-standard standard. He apparently took a fair amount of flak for the assertion, which was driven not by the professional frustration of facilitating healthcare information exchange, but instead by the personal challenge of securing transmission of his wife’s suspicious mammogram from point A to point B.

The agonizing hoops of collecting and transporting a CD are all-too-familiar to any patient or family member negotiating an image-based referral process.

Patient satisfaction in radiology cannot be reduced to an investment in the nicest waiting room on the block. The solution balances physical amenities with empathetic staff and clear communication. In addition, the formula includes informatics and integration—which, when appropriately configured, can go a long way in the delivery of patient-centered healthcare.

How is your organization ensuring and optimizing patient satisfaction? Let us know.