The Value of Communication Between Radiologists and Referring Physicians

March 4, 2021

Health care providers seek to accomplish more efficient, cost-effective use of medical resources while continuing to provide quality medical care. Accordingly, many hospitals, provider groups, government agencies, and professional societies have developed medical practice guidelines, treatment algorithms, and appropriateness criteria. These decision-making tools seek to improve health care by incorporating scientific evidence from the medical literature and by reducing unnecessary variation in medical practice.

During the last two decades, Radiology has experienced an explosive growth in the volume of exams requested and performed, mostly due to the innovation in technology and wider availability of advanced machinery. Now, more than ever, decision-making tools in diagnostic imaging are of paramount importance to enhance quality of care and efficient use of the available resources.

Appropriateness criteria for medical imaging procedures have been developed and are regularly updated by the American College of Radiology and the European Society of Radiology, while practice guidelines are released by several other scientific societies. They are structured by clinical condition or problem. For each clinical setting, a panel of experts identifies the applicable imaging options and assigns levels of appropriateness based on the results and quality of evidence from the medical literature.

These tools are intended to aid both radiologists and referring physicians in the effective selection of imaging studies. Nonetheless, they are still not widely used in routine clinical practice. In most cases, the information provided by referring physicians on the request forms sent to the radiologists is typically insufficient, and this limits the applicability of the appropriateness criteria because of lack of clinical data. In other circumstances, adoption of defensive medicine makes physicians ordering an excess of imaging exams independently of the real need for the patient and the probability of uncovering significant findings.

Inadequate clinical information or inappropriate use of diagnostic tests have a significant impact on patient management and healthcare spend.

Continuous and constructive communication between the referring physician and the radiologist represents a fundamental step towards appropriate and patient-centered use of radiological tests. Additional steps include the adoption of standardized, high quality imaging protocols and clear and unequivocal radiology reports.

The Bracco project “Radiologists Meet Referring Physicians” is an educational tool aimed at facilitating the communication between referring physicians and radiologists. The project aimed at supporting radiologists in their interactions with referring physicians to come to a joint decision on clinical diagnostic pathways for specific disease conditions.

During ECR 2021 you will be able to discover how Bracco is involved and can help you on this topic by connecting online on the ECR Pop-up World Tour (Channel 1) on Thursday, March 4 (from 09:45 to 10:15).

You also will be able to access the two first “Radiologists meet Referring Physicians” educational modules on the Bracco Virtual Exhibition area under the “Education in Radiology” section. The topic of the first module is “Chronic Liver Disease and HCC” and the topic of the second module is “Preoperative Breast Imaging”.

Stay updated on next educational modules and sign up at the following LINK