One of the driving forces behind the increasing commoditization of the specialty is the lack of communication between radiologists and clinicians, according to Mark Mamlouk, a former senior radiology resident at the University of California, Irvine.
Consequently, Mamlouk and his colleagues said in an article published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, radiologists are failing to reinforce their role as consultants to clinicians on issues like image interpretation, imaging appropriateness and radiation dose. "If radiologists are not ingrained during their training to be helpful consultants," they added, "they may learn when it is already too late."
To that end, in order to improve the consulting skills of radiology residents, Mamlouk and his colleagues developed a pilot study in which residents participated in rounds with clinical teams.
The residents were paired with internal medicine teams for two-week rotations, during which the resident would present a patient's imaging studies to the team at bedside or in a team teaching room; the resident would highlight teaching points related to image appropriateness, MRI safety and radiation safety.
Twenty clinicians were surveyed about the program. Most said having the radiology resident accompany clinical teams on rounds:
- streamlined patient care
- avoided unnecessary imaging studies
- increased clinicians' knowledge of radiology
Ninety percent agreed that a strong clinician-radiologist relationship helps patient care, and 95 percent said they wanted radiology residents to pair with clinical teams on rounds in the future. The clinicians were also asked--as a way to "elicit undertones of commoditization"--whether they considered radiology reports similar to a laboratory test, with 58 percent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.
The authors also noted that the experience of having radiologists join rounds also served to educate patients about the role radiologists have in their care.
Mamlouk and colleagues concluded that although the issue of commoditization is "multifaceted," practicing radiology with a service-oriented mentality will make radiologists less susceptible to becoming a commodity and possibly being replaced.
"[I]f we can develop this education for trainees and say that you need to take care of your consultants and interact with clinicians, it will provide the stepping stones to becoming a good radiology consultant," Mamlouk, told AuntMinnie.com.