Question of the Day

Radiographs from my new digital x ray room display an exposure index (EI). Does the EI tell me the patient's dose?

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Patients First' is Radiology's Future

George S. Bisset III, M.D.
George S. Bisset III, M.D.

The future of radiology depends on radiologists' capacity to develop a new kind of ownership—shared with their primary care and specialty colleagues—of patients' needs and expectations, according to 2012 RSNA President George S. Bisset III, M.D.

"What I mean by that is 'owning' our patients' problems," said Dr. Bisset, who will open RSNA 2012 with his President's Address, "Patients First: Rhetoric or Responsibility?" today at 8:30 a.m. in Arie Crown Theater. "I mean being more fully invested—thinking of them as our patients."

In an era of burgeoning consumer empowerment and team-based approaches to medicine, all physicians must reexamine their traditional relationship with patients, who have new expectations, Dr. Bisset said. "The classical model of medical care—which portrays the authoritative physician evaluating and treating an obedient, non-inquisitive patient—is rapidly crumbling," he said. "Patients have immediate access to countless resources for information. Radiologists should be a part of the movement to build another model in its place.

"While I'm as proud as I've ever been of our profession and all of its wonderful clinical, technical and diagnostic advances, two things that radiologists haven't done very well, as of late, are anticipating and responding to the new patient-centered trends in health care," Dr. Bisset continued. "But now we have the opportunity to address one of our greatest challenges—our tendency toward invisibility."

Problems emerge, said Dr. Bisset, when radiologists place greater value on commodities—reports and images—than on true patient care. "It is in our best interest to make our procedures more patient-friendly and to observe care more often through the eyes of the patient rather than through our own," he said. "We can become an increasingly visible and impactful member of the patient's care team and at the same time, a stronger partner with our clinical colleagues."

Dr. Bisset stressed that the solutions aren't complicated—radiologists can start by getting out of the reading room and into the waiting room to talk to patients about how their patient experience could be improved. "I've done it and what you learn will surprise you," he said.

"Provide organized patient information materials," he said. "Add features to imaging reports that help patients understand them better. Participate actively in the local medical community.

"Become invested in, and committed to, 'your' patients—not 'the' patients," Dr. Bisset concluded. "You are the patient's doctor when it comes to imaging."

Dr. Bisset is chief of pediatric radiology at Texas Children's Hospital and the Edward B. Singleton Professor of Radiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He previously was a professor of radiology and pediatrics and a staff radiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., where he also served as vice-chair of the Department of Radiology from 1995 to 2008. He was interim chair of the Department of Radiology at Duke from 2008 to 2010.

In addition to his long history with RSNA, which includes service as chair of the Scientific Program Committee and Board Liaison for Education, Dr. Bisset has been an active member and volunteer with many other societies. He served as a trustee of the American Board of Radiology from 2001 to 2009 and recently received the Pioneer Award of the Society for Pediatric Radiology.