Pediatric inpatient referrers tell why they don’t visit the reading room

Referring physicians have embraced remote access to radiology images and reports, but these technologies have slashed facetime with radiologists. The resulting clipped communications are not ideal for the cause of patient-centric collaboration.

What can be learned by observing habits and attitudes around whether or not to make “the long trek” from referring providers’ work areas to the radiology reading room?

To answer that question, Esther Udoji, MD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues surveyed staff physicians within the pediatric institute of a large academic medical center.

Almost a third of the recipients responded (93 of 320) to the multiple-choice questionnaire, and the bulk of those, 58 percent, had more than 10 years of practice experience.

Some 30 percent indicated they never visit the reading room, while 3 percent visit one or two times per day and 7 percent visit one or two times per week.

The remaining 60 percent split almost evenly among visits one or two times per month, one or two times per six-month period and one or two times per year.

The authors found that reading-room visit rates were not affected by specialty, years of experience or confidence in interpreting results/formulating care plans.

Respondents could check off more than one reason on why they did not visit the reading room when such was the case.

The most common reasons were distance (40 percent) and insufficient time (27 percent)—“common themes in the current health care climate,” they authors noted.

Other interesting findings included:

  • 41 percent of survey respondents said they are content discussing a case with any available radiologist within the group.
  • 32 percent prefer to discuss a case with the radiologist who interpreted the study.
  • 26 percent favor collaboration with a particular radiologist in whom they have confidence regardless of whether he or she interpreted the study.

Meanwhile, 28 percent identified expertise in their area of work as a key factor in choosing to work with specific radiologists, and 20 percent credited “established rapport” for spurring that decision.

Also identified as key were availability and responsiveness (13 percent) and important prior contributions (13 percent).

“Because healthcare metrics are increasingly being measured by value and outcomes, it is in the best interest of radiologists to develop and foster relationships with referring clinicians that will encourage the clinicians to consult with radiology no matter the venue,” the authors write in their study discussion. “Radiologists should have an open-door policy and multifaceted communication mechanisms, welcoming referring providers and soliciting their feedback.”

They stress that concisely addressing clinical questions in face-to-face interactions can add real value to patient care.