How Should You Structure Imaging Reports? Ask the Ordering Physician

What’s the best way for radiologists to report on imaging studies? It may depend on the ordering physician.

The radiology report shares the most important information from an imaging study, delivered from the radiologist to the physician who ordered the exam. Reporting styles may vary among providers, from highly structured to unstructured.

Structured vs. Unstructured

Highly organized, structured reporting can make it easier for data mining and billing. The more consistent vocabulary also can reduce the risk of confusion and medical errors.

An unstructured report, however, gives radiologists more freedom in their imaging reporting. This can be more beneficial to their workflow, allowing them to search and interpret images in a more natural, individualized style.

Differences in Preference

A new survey, published in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology, found that providers differ when it comes to how they like to receive radiology reports. Researchers surveyed 394 clinicians, radiologists, and physicians, on their preferences for expanded structured, minimized structured, or unstructured reports.

Overall, the most preferred style was expanded structured, at 47 percent. However, radiologists and non-radiologists had different preferences. Radiologists preferred the unstructured reporting style at a rate of 41 percent, while 51 percent of non-radiologists preferred the expanded structured reporting style.

Additionally, 51 percent of emergency medicine physicians preferred a minimized structured reporting style, probably because those reports tend to be shorter and faster to read.

Report Recommendations

Due to the differences in preferences among providers, the researchers recommended that radiologists tailor the style of their reports to the ordering physician.

We know how important it is to get imaging reports to the ordering physicians without delay. That’s why Novarad offers AlertView®, a secure mobile app that notifies referring physicians, radiologists, or cardiologists that STAT or routine results are ready for evaluation.

Providers can review reports from a mobile device with one tap, reducing disruptions while improving patient outcomes. Contact Novarad today to learn more.

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