How Practices Can Become More Patient-Friendly

July 22, 2020

Three strategies to keep your patients at ease and satisfied with your performance.

The business of radiology continues to evolve, including the interactions between practices and their patients. Patients are now seeking tighter control of their own healthcare and are becoming more educated with the pervasiveness of technology and information they get at their fingertips.

As patients continue to evolve, radiology practices have had to adjust their patient interaction methods to become more sensitive and empathetic to their individual situations – something patients yearn for in their physicians and radiologists. According to a 2016 study done by the Massachusetts General Hospital department of orthopedic surgery, 65 percent of patient satisfaction was directly correlated with physician empathy, highlighting the importance of professionals’ behaviors when interacting with their patients.

While many practices have created suitable programs to be understanding of and responsive to their patients’ wishes, there’s still more to be done to be on par with the patient-centric trend we’re seeing throughout health care. With that, here are three ways radiology practices can become more patient-friendly.

Advocating Patient Input

Much of the relationship between a radiologist or referring physician and their patient consists of the radiologist giving consultation to the patient on the best possible treatment options. While this part of the process will not and should not change, we often forget about where the patient’s perspective lies in this.

It’s a best practice to empower patients by letting them share input and what they feel is right for them, along with guidance from their radiologist or physician. After all, it is the patient’s right to make his or her own decisions and that should never be interfered with. It’s important to make patients feel comfortable at all times and to encourage them to share any vital specifics about their medical history, as it could have a major impact on image diagnosing accuracy and the subsequent treatments.

Allowing patients this opportunity will give them more confidence to initiate conversations with their physician or radiologist, which can build a stronger relationship between both sides moving forward.

Maintaining a Fluid Line of Communication with Patients

Maintaining constant and informatory communication with patients is paramount throughout the diagnosing and treatment process when radiologists are called to interact with patients. No matter the news – good or bad – patients deserve to be readily updated on their scans and what those scans mean in terms of treatment from their physicians. Keeping patients regularly updated can calm any fears they may have while going through the process, no matter if it’s from their referring physician or radiologist.

Keep in mind you must do your best to explain everything in layman’s terms for patients, as some patients may be new to radiology and what it all entails. Using complex industry terminology could cause confusion and misinterpretation, which can affect patients’ decisions and their understanding of treatment steps. Some patients may still not fully comprehend all the information, no matter how clear and concise it was presented to them. The next step would be to refer them to physical or digital resources that may explain their situation differently. Again, making patients feel comfortable and knowledgeable of what all is transpiring is paramount.

Practices can also enhance their patient communication methods by utilizing the vast capabilities of modern technology. Some groups, such as Collaborative Imaging, have adopted and innovated technological solutions, such as instant messaging, image annotation, full directory of referring physicians and phone apps to consolidate patients’ appointment schedules.

These solutions allow the conversation between both parties to remain fluid and informatory. This technology has aided patients and radiologists during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many practices and facilities have moved toward remote work and telehealth visits. Implementing this technology can greatly improve the communication between your radiologists and patients in this virtual era of health care and beyond.

Being Transparent with Your Patients

The third – and maybe most important step – practices can take to become more patient-friendly is to be as transparent as possible with patients at all times. Patients deserve clear and honest communication, no matter the nature of the dialogue. This builds trust between both sides, which can pay dividends in terms of patient loyalty and patient engagement. It also emphasizes your practice’s obligations to providing the best possible patient care and emulates the values the entire practice strives by which to operate.

Not being empathetic and transparent with your patients could have numerous ramifications that could affect the future of your business. Legal issues, loss of current and future patients, and damage to your practice’s brand are just the few of the complications that could occur if you are operating dishonestly with patients.

Interactions between patients and their referring physicians will continue to evolve as patients will look to have direct input and tighter control of their health care. Radiology practices need to embrace the changes in patient behavior and incorporate these three principles, along with others, to properly adapt in this new industry era. If not, patients will leave lagging practices behind for those who listen to them and attend to their wants and needs accordingly.