Agreement with Disclosure of Imaging Results to patients – comment from a Professor of Radiology

This is the second post today about the value of patients having access to their health information online, in one of two “frontier” areas, imaging results.

Here’s the comment, that was sent to me via the comments page, and I have been given permission to repost here:

I am in complete agreement with direct disclosure of imaging results to patients–why not … create a single ‘patient portal’ that patients control and each health system must send pt records to it? It is a peculiar system we live with that charges a patient to take an image of their body, keep the image, and sends the report to their intermediary (their doctor) hoping they will get it. And the patient has no idea up front what that cost will be. (and of course, neither do the providers). Comedians may find great sport in this but it is unfortunately painful reality for many. – Kimberly Applegate, MD, MS, Vice Chair of Quality and Safety, Professor of Radiology and Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Applegate wrote this in response to this post, covering a study showing that even in EHR equipped organizations patients may not learn about abnormal imaging results when there is a dependency on their physician/health care team relaying the information.

I have written here about the issue of imaging results and why they are treated differently than other lab test results by some organizations (and states, notably California) when it comes to providing information online. Because the “norms” around sharing imaging results are changing more slowly than those around other test results, I think it’s significant when a medical leader in the field of Radiology makes a statement about this.

Thanks, Kimberly, for allowing me to share your thoughts here. As my previous post points out, the painful reality that Kimberly points out can be devastating for patients and families whose abnormal test result is not delivered by a system that doesn’t allow them to take part in keeping it accurate.

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Ted Eytan, MD