Patient access to radiology reports: what do physicians think?

J Am Coll Radiol. 2010 Apr;7(4):281-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2009.10.011.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to seek physicians' perspectives on radiology reporting systems, so that reporting systems can begin to be reorganized and made more patient centered by giving patients greater access to their personal health information.

Methods: Focus-group methodology was used to explore physicians' views on direct patient access to radiologic test results. Subjects for the two groups were physicians at a single academic medical center. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic content analysis.

Results: Most participants were dissatisfied with current reporting systems. Both radiologists and referring physicians (RPs) were aware that patients are not satisfied with the current system for notification of radiologic test results, and both thought that patients should have access to personal health information and take responsibility for their own health care. Regarding direct patient online access to results, both radiologists and RPs were concerned that patients would not understand report contents and that such access would lead to greater patient anxiety and demands on RPs' time. Referring physicians were also concerned that direct patient access to results would cause RPs to lose some control in the patient-physician relationship. Both radiologists and RPs preferred that any system for direct patient access incorporate a time delay and be tested for effect before being implemented.

Conclusions: Revisions attempting to increase the patient-centeredness of care in the area of radiology reporting should be developed and tested to 1) minimize adverse effects on patient anxiety; 2) optimize timing, considering effects on both patients and RPs; and 3) simultaneously address problems with between-physician reporting methods.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Patient Access to Records*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Pilot Projects
  • Radiology*