Discomfort, and Anxiety
Elvira V. Lang, MD, FSIR, FSCEH
• Positive patient interactions and experiences not only help the customer but also
directly affect the bottom line. Waste of
overhead can be limited by simply changing the way staff talks with patients.
• It is important to include rapid rapport
skills and ways to positively shape the
patients’ experience right from the start
instead of waiting and possibly having a
procedure or scan disrupted.
• It “takes a village” to have a smooth transition in how communication is used
throughout the department. A method
of patient interaction called Comfort
Talk TM was developed in which schedul-ers, receptionists, nurses, technologists,
and physicians are extensively trained in
advanced rapport skills and setting
It was once thought that physicians become radiologists because they
didn’t want to interact with their patients.
In the joke, “How do you hide a 100 dollar
bill from a doctor?” the answer pertaining to the radiologist is: “You pin it on
the patient.” But times have changed.
Today, radiologists are at the critical interface between diagnosis and treatment,
a time when patients and referring clinicians have questions, demands, and are
in need of guidance.
Positive patient interactions and experiences not only help the “customer”
but also directly affect the bottom line.
Anxiety related reactions, ranging from
apprehension to inability to complete
the test, affect between 4-30% of patients
undergoing MRI. 1 An estimated 2.3% of
patients cannot complete their MRI scans
because of claustrophobia, panic, or other
reasons that prevent them from lying still. 2
This results in hundreds of thousands of
dollars of losses every year for the involved
facilities. Fortunately such waste of overhead can be limited by simply changing
the way staff talks with patients. 3
This article was reproduced with permission from the
European based IMAGING Management (Volume 10 Issue 5), an established business and management journal
that covers management trends and their impact on radiology business and economics.
The promise of medications for distress management is no panacea. When
the threshold to use anesthesia is low,
such as in pediatric imaging, it can create a bottleneck when availability of anesthesia personnel is limited. For this
reason—not scanner capacity—waiting
times for elective pediatric MRI are currently in the range of several months in
Another problem that good communication with patients can avoid is no-shows. Support by a communication-trained scheduler or judicious use of
scripts can greatly ameliorate this challenge. It pays to have patients arrive with
less anxiety. Otherwise, their cases will
take longer and be more painful. 4
Litigation Headaches Linked
to ‘Absent’ Physicians
Patients who feel their healthcare provider doesn’t care are more likely to
sue. 5 Malpractice attorneys cite communication issues as the primary reason for
filing a suit in more than 80% of cases. 6
These patients cite having information
poorly delivered, and not being understood or valued as leading causes of dissatisfaction. 7 Responding to the public’s
frustration with poor doctor-patient
relationships, the Accreditation Council