Setting the Record Straight on Complexity of Reporting
Setting the Record Straight on Technological Advances, Efficiencies and Complexity of Reporting
A Statement by the CAR on the common misconceptions regarding radiologists’ workload
On December 23, 2016, the CAR submitted a statement to The Globe and Mail regarding the impact of technological advances on radiologists’ workload, efficiency, and the complexity of reporting. The statement was in response to an article published on December 14 that targeted the fee-for-service billings of Ontario radiologists and other specialists.
While the issue profiled in the article is a provincial matter, the CAR consulted with the Ontario Association of Radiologists who agreed that it was prescient for the CAR to issue a statement to The Globe and Mail outlining the national perspective on the value that medical imaging and radiologists add to the health system as a whole.
The statement is reproduced below in its entirety, for the interest of our members.
23 December 2016
In response to The Globe and Mail article of December 14, I am writing to clarify the impact of changing technology in the day to day work of radiologists. Technological advancements have greatly increased the complexity of radiologists’ work, and their workloads. Current CT and MRI technologies provide hundreds, and in many cases thousands, of images for review. Image numbers have increased exponentially. There has been a concurrent rise in the complexity of imaging studies themselves. Complex imaging research protocols have become mainstream imaging tools, requiring a sophisticated understanding of new technologies to enable meaningful interpretation of studies with hundreds or thousands of images.
As such, the work involved in interpreting and reporting these studies has increased significantly. Radiologists now have better access to patient records, and to a world of medical literature at our fingertips. This too leads to better patient care, but additional time is required to integrate this information into our reports and communicate with physicians and our patients. Radiologists have also assumed greater responsibility for quality assurance and improvement in our departments.
Today’s imaging findings not only diagnose, but also guide patient management, often more so than the traditional history and physical exam. Using precise image guided techniques, interventional radiologists are now the primary treating physicians for many conditions. The changing demographics and expanding needs of our patient population drive a constant increase in the demand for medical imaging services and the radiologists and other physicians who provide them. Canadian health care is utterly dependent on medical imaging, and this is driving increased workloads. This discussion is much more nuanced than was presented in the article. It would be unfortunate for policy decisions to be made without a better understanding of the realities of diagnostic imaging today.
William Miller, MD, FRCPC
President of the Canadian Association of Radiologists