Radiology Reporting

Radiology’s Smart New Deal

A new Journal of Digital Imaging editorial from UCLA radiology chair Dieter R. Enzmann, MD proposed a complete overhaul of how radiology reports are designed and distributed, in a way that should make sense to radiology outsiders but might make some folks within radiology uncomfortable.

Dr. Enzmann’s “Smart New Deal” proposes that radiology reports and reporting workflows should evolve to primarily support smartphone-based usage for both patients and physicians, ensuring that reports are:

  • Widely accessible 
  • Easily navigated and understood 
  • Built with empathy for current realities (info overload, time scarcity, mobility)
  • And widely utilized… because they are accessible, simple, and understandable

To achieve those goals, Dr. Enzmann proposes a “creative destruction” of our current reporting infrastructure, helped by ongoing improvements in foundational technologies (e.g. cloud, interoperability) and investments from radiology’s tech leaders (or from their future disruptors).

Despite Dr. Enzmann’s impressive credentials, the people of radiology might have a hard time coming to terms with this vision, given that:

  • Radiology reports are mainly intended for referring physicians, and referrers don’t seem to be demanding simplified phone-native reports (yet)
  • This is a big change given how reports are currently formatted and accessed
  • Patient-friendly features that require new labor often face resistance
  • It might make more sense for this smartphone-centric approach to cover patients’ entire healthcare journeys (not just radiology reports)

The Takeaway

It can be hard to envision a future when radiology reports are primarily built for smartphone consumption.

That said, few radiologists or rad vendors would argue against other data-based industries making sure their products (including their newsletters) are accessible, understandable, and actionable. Many might also recognize that some of the hottest imaging segments are already smartphone-native (e.g. AI care coordination solutions, PocketHealth’s imaging sharing, handheld POCUS), while some of the biggest trends in radiology focus on making reports easier for patients and referrers to consume.

Smartphone-first reporting might not be a sure thing, but the trends we’re seeing do suggest that efforts to achieve Dr. Enzmann’s core reporting goals will be rewarded no matter where technology takes us.

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-- The Imaging Wire team