The voice of the radiologist: Enabling patients to speak directly to radiologists.

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Journal Title

Clinical imaging

MeSH Headings

Humans, Radiologists, Voice, Radiology


Patients and patient advocates express a desire to speak directly with radiologists, who are ideally suited to answer imaging-related questions and recommend for further imaging or testing. While web-based patient portals have improved patient access to reports of radiology examinations, they do little to help patients understand the report, and rarely facilitate contact with their radiologists. We implemented an alias phone number that forwarded to the smartphone of each participating radiologist and embedded it in 3896 reports over 8 months. It was embedded as an invitation to the individual viewing the report to call with questions. For each call received, we logged parameters such as call duration, call reason, and required radiologist time/resources. Finally, the call was documented in the electronic medical record. Radiologists received 27 calls exclusively about cross-sectional exams: 22 from patients or caregivers, and 5 from physicians. The reasons for the calls included term definitions, correction of dictation errors, findings not specifically mentioned, and clinical impact of findings. Time spent on the phone with patients averaged 8.6 min. When including the time spent reviewing the images, patient chart, and/or literature; the total radiologist time per call was approximately 13.9 min. Averaged over all of the exams in the study, this service added 5 s to each exam. While the total call rate was low, implementation of this program required minimal effort. The aliased phone number masked the radiologist's phone number and allowed scheduled consultation hours. Even when called, the time to address questions appears to be minimal.



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