Radiologist morphs from doctor's doctor to patient's physician

December 1, 2002

The changes shaking up the radiology landscape are transforming the radiologist's traditional role as a consultant to physicians to a more active one directly involving the patient, according to Dr. R. Nick Bryan, president of the RSNA."The field of

The changes shaking up the radiology landscape are transforming the radiologist's traditional role as a consultant to physicians to a more active one directly involving the patient, according to Dr. R. Nick Bryan, president of the RSNA.

"The field of radiology is in the middle of a digital revolution," Bryan said during his presidential address today at the RSNA meeting.

The role of technology is also the theme of the entire RSNA 2002 conference. This year's title is "Leading Medicine's Digital Transformation."

In his presentation, "The Digital Revolution: The Millennial Change in Medical Imaging," Bryan outlined the vast changes medical technological advances have wrought upon the field of radiology. He also described how the RSNA, and more specifically its Electronic Communications Committee (ECC), has helped to manage those changes.

Founded in 1987, the ECC was involved in developing the DICOM standard, adding the infoRAD component to the annual RSNA conference, and instituting the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) initiative.

By providing a framework for managing data from the HIS, RIS, various modalities, and PACS, the IHE initiative is the key program of the RSNA, Bryan said.

The digital revolution, which has provided radiology with more advanced imaging modalities, computer-aided detection, and PACS, has allowed radiologists and clinicians - and even patients - to have faster and easier access to medical images.

"The main benefit of PACS is the ability to deliver images and reports to the right place at the right time," Bryan said.

Along with the digital revolution, however, has come a legal revolution. With the advent of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations, patients now have the right to review, obtain, and request corrections to their medical records and images, according to Bryan.

"HIPAA will allow, if not force, us to relate to our patients in a totally different way," he said.

Bryan said that it should become routine for radiologists to provide patients with images.

"We are, and should be considered, one of the patient's physicians, and not just a doctor's doctor," he said.