Speaking at the Canadian Association of Radiologists meeting in Montreal last week, Ella Jazerooni, M.D., underscored the disadvantage that medical imaging specialists face with patient portals. Without the proper design and infrastructure, they can exclude radiologists from the continuum of care, AuntMinnie.com reported. Yet, working with the right vendor can help to alleviate some of these problems with functionality and transition to better portal performance.
The issue lies in the design flaws of the portals, as referring physicians decide which aspects of a radiology report will be presented on the Web-based product and what patients will be able to locate for review. However, given the sensitive nature of most digital imaging results, it should be preferable for the images to be reviewable as soon as possible. The delay, Kazerooni stated, is unnecessary.
"A lot of [imaging] test results are normal, or they have abnormalities that have no clinical relevance. If a patient has back pain, and the MRI scan shows that patient has a herniated disk, is there any reason that the patient should not know that right away? It will explain the patient's pain," said Jazerooni, professor of radiology and director of cardiothoracic radiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, quoted by the news source.
Additionally, most portals are designed so that patients can only contact their referring physicians directly, and not their radiologists. When trying to centralize care around patients, this functionality – or lack thereof – can be detrimental to facilitating patient engagement.
Study underscores claims
In a 2013 study, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, led by Corey Arnold, M.D., created a Java-based application to support the creation of a radiology patient portal. The product was composed of four parts: a section with the patient's images, an informational section with explanations on imaging techniques and diseases, an interactive panel with portions of imaging studies and a viewer with a full image series that had conclusions for the corresponding report.
HealthImaging reported that 2.883 MRI brain scans from 277 patients were processed into the portal, with 448 unique concepts included. The data was fed into processing modules and the analyses were stored on the portal server in a comprehensive database. As a result, the application was able to use imaging informatics to translate clinical information into educational tools for patients.
The implementation of a radiology portal would smooth the continuum of care across disparate health systems that utilize diagnostic radiology in tandem with standard medical consultations.
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