Many Patients Prefer To Access Radiology Results Online, Survey Finds

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Many patients say they would rather receive radiology results through an online portal than through more traditional notification methods, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, CMIO reports.

Study Details

For the study, researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina invited adult outpatients to take an electronic survey. Fifty-three patients responded to the questionnaire.

The electronic survey exposed each respondent to three simulated medical situations in which radiology reports were described as normal, seriously abnormal or indeterminate. For each scenario, participants were asked to indicate how they would want to receive the radiology reports and what educational resources would help them better understand the results.

Study Findings

Overall, 80% of respondents said they would prefer to receive the radiology reports through an online portal instead of through traditional notification methods like phone calls, mail or in-person consultations.

Researchers also found that:

  • 60.2% of respondents said they would want to receive the radiology reports immediately for the scenario involving normal results, while 28.3% said they would want the results within three days;
  • 45.3% said they would want to receive the radiology reports immediately for the scenario involving abnormal results; and
  • 45.3% the radiology reports immediately for the scenario involving indeterminate results.

Respondents also cited interest in various educational resources that would help them better understand the radiology reports, such as conversations with physicians and Internet searches.

The study recommended that health care organizations using online portals provide links to reliable online medical information to help patients understand the results.

Study Limitations

Researchers noted that the study had certain limitations. For example:

  • The study sample included only those patients who agreed to take the electronic survey, and those patients might already have been more inclined to want online access to test results; and
  • The study did not assess how online access to radiology reports would affect patients' anxiety level (Godt, CMIO, 4/3).

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