Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant
Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | Information Technology| September 14, 2016

Call Me: How Cell Phones Can Make A Difference in Radiology

smartphones, technology

Image courtesy of pixabay

Nothing can — or should — replace the written radiology report as the way radiologists send their findings to referring physicians. But there are times when speed is of the essence, when interaction between radiologist and referring physician is critically important for the patient. At those times, says David Naeger, associate professor of clinical radiology at the University of California San Francisco, nothing is better than talking — and hospital-based cell phones can make that happen.

Research by Naeger and colleagues, published in 2014, documented that cell phone conversations with radiologists can help neurologists form differential diagnoses. In the research, radiologists and referring physicians reported increased satisfaction after these conversations and neurologists seemed especially pleased, according to Naeger. Demonstrating the utility of cell phone interaction was the frequency of conversations between neurologists and radiology residents, he said, three and six such discussions per night.

The idea of talking through a problem is hardly new. Neither is the idea of using cell phones for this purpose.

In a white paper distributed by the Swedish IT firm Sectra, the use of cell phones came up in research involving 78 referring physicians and 78 radiologists, all working in the United States. While all acknowledged the importance of formal reports, a consensus arose that the efficiency and value of the information could be improved by increasing communication between radiologists and referring physicians and “making it easier to get in touch with each other.” They suggested including the referring physician’s cell phone on the exam order and having a cell phone link to the referring clinician in PACS.

Erik M. Olson, M.D., of Radiology Associates, which operates three outpatient medical imaging centers in California, noted in a March 2015 newsletter article that referring physicians often want to discuss exams or have the radiologist pay attention to specific clinical detail. “Unfortunately, contacting a radiologist can be a time-consuming endeavor for a busy referring physician,” Olson wrote.

Calls to the front office and even to reading rooms can go unanswered. “The ideal way for a referring doctor to communicate with the radiologist is through the radiologist’s cell phone, equipped with capabilities for voicemail, text message and e-mail,” he wrote, adding the caveat that any texts must be HIPAA-compliant, referring to medical record numbers or patient initials rather than the patient’s full name.

In this respect, the cell phone puts a modern twist on “old school” communications, which used to happen when referring physicians would “drop in” on the reading room. But, if technology is going to be thrust into the breach between radiologists and referring physicians, why not use the most advanced capabilities of that technology?

An Australian neurosurgeon reported in 2012 the use of a video application on a smartphone to transmit an “entire series of patient neuroimaging” to consultant neurosurgeons. “With this information, combined with a clinical history, accurate management decisions were made,” wrote Ganeshwaran Shivapathasundram, M.D.

Whether it’s high-tech, low-tech or no-tech doesn’t matter. The trick is improving communications. The ultimate goal is to make it so the patient receives the best healthcare possible.

Editor's note: This is the second blog in a four-part series on smartphones and radiology. The first blog, “How Smartphones Can Make Radiologists Even Smarter,” can be found here.

Related Content

Glassbeam Introduces AI-powered Rules and Alerts Engine for Clinsights
News | Analytics Software | August 23, 2019
Glassbeam Inc. revealed several technology enhancements in its Rules & Alerts engine that make it dramatically...
Sectra Signs Enterprise Imaging Contract With Vanderbilt Health
News | Enterprise Imaging | August 21, 2019
Sectra will install its enterprise imaging picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and vendor neutral archive...
Videos | Computed Tomography (CT) | August 21, 2019
This is a quick walk around of a mobile 32-slice...
News | Cybersecurity | August 20, 2019
Healthcare data breaches are currently being reported at a rate of more than one a day, according to a new report from...
The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | August 13, 2019
Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate...
Lake Medical Imaging Selects Infinitt for Multi-site RIS/PACS
News | PACS | August 09, 2019
Infinitt North America will be implementing Infinitt RIS (radiology information system)/PACS (picture archiving and...
Half of Hospital Decision Makers Plan to Invest in AI by 2021
News | Artificial Intelligence | August 08, 2019
August 8, 2019 — A recent study conducted by Olive AI explores how hospital leaders are responding to the imperative
NetDirector Launches Cloud-based PDF to DICOM Conversion Service
News | PACS | August 08, 2019
NetDirector, a cloud-based data exchange and integration platform, has diversified their radiology automation options...
ScImage Introduces PICOM ModalityGuard for Cybersecurity
Technology | Cybersecurity | August 07, 2019
ScImage Inc. is bridging the gap between security and functionality with the introduction of the PICOM ModalityGuard....
Montefiore Nyack Hospital Uses Aidoc AI to Spot Urgent Conditions Faster
News | Artificial Intelligence | August 05, 2019
Montefiore Nyack Hospital, an acute care hospital in Rockland County, N.Y., announced it is utilizing artificial...