On-site hospital radiologists spend close to one-third of their time interpreting images, according to a workflow study (called the Vancouver Workload Utilization Evaluation--or VALUE--study) published in the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
The results, according to the study's authors, led by Deljit Dhanoa, M.D., an assistant clinical professor at the University of British Columbia, demonstrate that any notion that radiologists spend all of their time in a reading room interpreting studies needs to be revised.
Before training to become a radiologist, Dhanoa worked as an emergency physician, he told DOTmed News, and said that during his time working in the emergency department he always thought of the radiology department as something of a "black box."
"I feel the daily tasks of a radiologist are not understood by many," he said. "It wasn't until I stepped in those shoes that I began to appreciate and truly understand the role that radiologists carry out every day."
Consequently, he helped organize the VALUE study to analyze the day-to-day tasks of radiologists.
The researchers employed a trained observer to follow 14 radiologists in three different hospitals in greater Vancouver during the fall of 2012. They found that the radiologists spent 36.4 percent of their clinical time on image interpretation, and the remainder of the time on noninterpretative tasks (such as those having to do with quality assurance, patient safety, supervising and monitoring studies, performing image-guided procedures, and communicating with other physicians and patients).
During the course of an average day, the researchers found, radiologists had six interactions per hour with other health personnel that had an impact on patient care. "The large majority of value based interactions radiologists participate in each day is making significant real-time medical decisions that directly alter patient's care," Dhanoa said.