SIIM 2015: Prototype system helps patients understand their reports

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National Harbor, Md.—Patients want access to their imaging reports, but chances are they won’t be able to make heads or tails of many of the terms used to communicate findings. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania saw a need to make reports more patient-centric, and discussed work being done on a pilot project to help make reports more accessible at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) annual meeting.

“With this increase in patient access to their individual radiology report, there’s a growing awareness that there’s a lot of technical language and medical jargon that’s included throughout the radiology report and this results in a sense of dissatisfaction for the patient consumer,” said Seong C. Oh, MD, of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Oh and colleagues believe the solution may lie in a system they developed called PORTER (Patient-Oriented Radiology reporTER). Focusing first on knee MRI reports, PORTER includes a glossary of relevant terms and an interactive web-based user interface aimed at being intuitive for patients. The system processes provided imaging reports, highlighting technical terms that the user can hover over using the mouse to display a lay definition. Additionally, the system can display associated images and link out to supplemental information on outside websites such as Wikipedia.

PORTER was built by analyzing 100 knee MRI reports from three affiliated hospitals, with 285 common and clinically important terms selected for translation to lay language. The researchers used the Flesch-Kincaid Grade-Level formula to assess readability, and a U.S. grade 10 as the target for the lay definitions.

Oh and colleagues grabbed a sample of 10 outline-style knee MRI reports that had been processed by PORTER, and found a mean Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Score of 13.1, which was higher than the target but would be significantly higher still if not translated by the system, according to the authors.

The researchers are currently evaluating the actual impact PORTER has on patients’ understanding of and satisfaction with radiology reports.

The work was the recipient of the SIIM 2015 New Investigator Travel Award and was eligible for the Roger A. Bauman Student Paper Award.