Radiology Partners’ Clinical Value Team is working to better serve referring physicians by asking: What do referring physicians want in a radiology report?
Radiology reports are crucial in the services provided by radiology groups to referring physicians. However, the reports often cater more to the preferences of the reporting radiologist rather than recipient’s needs. In fact, a January 2021 study in the American Journal of Roentgenology explored the preferences of radiology services by specialty and found the value put on specific services differed according to predictable characteristics. To bridge this gap, Radiology Partners (RP) is creating and implementing report formats to better reflect the preferences of referring physicians.
“Medical imaging is central to patient care, putting radiologists in a critical position within the care continuum,” said Dr. Krishna Nallamshetty, RP’s Chief Medical Officer. “As the largest radiology practice in the U.S., we believe it is our responsibility to leverage our network and scale to collect and disseminate best practices that elevate the entire specialty. This work is essential to our mission of transforming radiology.”
Listening to Referring Physicians
In 2021, RP’s Clinical Value Team conducted a survey of nearly 600 referring physicians to gather feedback and insights on radiologist reports with the goal of prioritizing service to referring clinicians.
- First, the team used RP’s network of 3,600+ physicians to gather opinions from radiologists practicing in various environments across the country.
- Next, the team developed three frequently used sample reports. Each report included the same information but in different structures and with varying levels of detail.
- Then, the team surveyed 584 referring clinicians across the country, asking respondents to rate the reports by appearance and formatting and satisfaction of the detail level. The team used a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best.
- When the results were in, the most popular report included a uniform structure and a medium level of detail.
Refining Report Templates
The Clinical Value Team and RP’s national subspecialty divisions used the survey data to create report templates for each specialty. In all, the team developed 125 radiology report templates aimed at covering ~85% of RP’s total imaging volume. The team also ensured all reports capture quality measurements needed for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act’s (MACRA) Quality Payment Program (QPP) and Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).
Implementation and Customization
To encourage implementation across RP’s network of 3,600+ radiologists, the Clinical Value Team presented the survey data to radiologists, emphasizing that restructuring reports to align with referring physicians’ needs improves patient care. Today, the Clinical Value Team is assisting RP local practices with the integration of the templates into their dictation platforms and workflow, and radiologists have the flexibility to choose whether to use them.
Sherri Lewman, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Imaging at Tampa General Hospital, shared that “our radiologists listened to the input of our referring physicians to create radiology report templates that catered to their needs. Structured radiology reports improve clinical quality by increasing the consistency of report findings. There has been a positive impact on referring physician satisfaction and billing performance in our health system.”
Looking ahead, the Clinical Value Team plans to develop more specialty-specific report templates to better cater to the unique requirements of different providers. However, balancing customization with practicality is crucial to avoid an excessive number of report variations.
Momentum and Continual Improvement
The ongoing goal of the Clinical Value Team is to ensure radiology report templates benefit both referring physicians and radiologists.
By aligning radiology reports with the preferences of referring physicians, RP and its Clinical Value Team aim to enhance communication, improve patient care and foster stronger partnerships between radiologists and referring physicians.
For RP’s network of thousands of radiologists, the Clinical Value Team offers information and resources for physicians to make informed decisions about implementing the report templates. New radiologists joining RP automatically gain access to the templates, and existing local practices are transitioning to their use. The Clinical Value team tracks template utilization through watermarks, aiding in monitoring their effectiveness and opportunities for improvement.
“This project has proven beneficial for our referring physicians and our radiologists, and we have significant momentum for continual improvement,” Nallamshetty said. “When physicians from all specialties work together to make things better for each other, patients ultimately benefit, and that’s what it’s all about.”
For more information on this topic, read “Radiology reports key to supporting referring physicians’ patient care” via AuntMinnie.com.
Radiology Partners Clinical Value Team exists to elevate patient care and enhance value through innovation, collaboration and education. Radiology Partners, through its owned and affiliated practices, is the largest physician-led and physician-owned radiology practice in the U.S. For the latest news from RP, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and the blog.