Q&A: Why Push For Multimedia Enhanced Radiology Reporting?

April 15, 2015

Could the next generation of radiology reports require multimedia?

A study earlier this year confirmed that referring physicians want their radiology reports to have image- and data-embedded multimedia. Diagnostic Imaging spoke with Randall Stenoien, MD, CEO of Innovative Radiology, on his experience with the implementation of multimedia-enhanced radiology reporting (MERR).

What is multimedia enhanced radiology reporting (MERR)?

Multimedia enhanced radiology reporting (MERR) is new technology that equips radiologists with the ability to embed key images as well as quantitative analysis in the form of tables for vessel analysis or lesion management. Anatomical bookmarks allow users to navigate to these bookmarks quickly and easily directly from the report.

What was the motive for implementing this technology?

Our motive for implementing this technology was to deliver better diagnostic content for the physicians we serve. A standard radiology report is a short paragraph-that’s a fairly limited form of communication. This new technology allows us to enrich the report with clinically relevant data that helps physicians make diagnostic and treatment decisions with greater confidence. 

What is the value of MERR?[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"34202","attributes":{"alt":"Randall Stenoien, MD, CEO of Innovative Radiology","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_1373910858544","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3638","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 199px; width: 160px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Randall Stenoien, MD, CEO of Innovative Radiology","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

We upgraded our Carestream Vue Reporting module to achieve advanced capabilities that better serve our physician clients. We are giving them a higher level of clinical information that’s fast and easy for them to view. This leads to greater physician satisfaction and loyalty-and perhaps to enhanced patient care as well.

What was the process for referring physicians to view images prior to this technology?

For most physicians, image access requires signing onto a PACS or EMR and finding the right imaging study for each patient. Some systems are better than others, but it’s simply too many steps and too much work to view an imaging study for each patient.   

Are referring physicians looking at the images? What has their feedback been?

Specialists have been the most vocal about the added value of embedding images or tables into radiology reports. Oncologists can view lesion analyses and show graphs to their patients. They can say “Look what’s happening to your tumor. As a result of the treatment, it’s shrunk by 30%.”

Orthopedic specialists and neurosurgeons also value rapid access to detailed data about their patients directly from the report. They don’t have to sign onto an EMR or go looking for imaging studies. Everything they need is in the report.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"34201","attributes":{"alt":"multimedia radiology reporting","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_6637683705985","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3637","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 241px; width: 250px; float: right;","title":"Image courtesy of Carestream.","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Internists and family practitioners want the ability to obtain more than a brief clinical summary. They appreciate being able to view imaging studies and other data that document the reason for a diagnosis and can help them determine treatment plans.

It’s not unusual for physicians to walk around offices, imaging centers, or hospitals with iPads. Now they can see the status of a radiology report, view the report and associated images/data on their tablet, and decide on patient treatment. Multimedia enhanced reporting is not only more convenient for them, it can help them deliver better patient care by enabling them to be more responsive and to shorten the time a patient has to wait to find out the results and what treatment is being recommended.

What effect has this had on the need for radiologist-referring physician consultations?

I don’t think it increases or decreases the need for consultations, but it does improve the process because a physician is already looking at an image or table when the conversation takes place. So it eliminates the need for a radiologist to send images or tables and then have the consultation once the physician receives them.