Radiologists voice workload frustration in research report released at SIIM
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Radiologists voice workload frustration in research report released at SIIM

John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
A survey conducted of a small sample of radiologists at academic medical centers, healthcare systems, radiology practices, and hospitals confirmed a litany of radiologist workflow and practice complaints, such as tedious methods of measurement, job burnout, and inefficient workflow in the face of increasing workloads.

The report, which consisted of interviews with nine radiologists and their response to 23 questions, was prepared by Porter Research and sponsored by imaging AI solutions company, Nuance Communications. Nuance released the report at the 2019 SIIM annual meeting currently convened in Aurora, Colorado.

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“Radiologists are being pressured by larger and larger workloads, due, in part, to rising patient volumes and inefficient systems and processes,” Karen Holzberger, vice president and general manager of diagnostics for Nuance, told HCBN. “The unfortunate result is that many radiologists are burned out. We wanted to hear directly from the source on what can be done to alleviate the stress and tension, and specifically, what role can innovative technology play?”

Dr. Alexander Towbin, a radiologist in the department of radiology and medical imaging at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said radiologists deliver a service in an expensive environment that needs to be efficient.

“Workflow efficiency is something that I believe is important,” said Towbin. “We all know ... medical costs are out of control, and no one can afford them; so we need to be ... cognizant of what we spend and what we ask for our patients.”

Holzberger said that incorporating narrative reporting into structured data and integrating intelligence and AI-generated findings directly into the workflow to automate and augment reports is a proven solution. The access to AI, pre-populating data within reports, automating repetitive or time-consuming routine tasks, structured reporting formats, and other features are recognized as high-value capabilities.

“[With conversational AI,] I would be able to extract data and put it into more structured reports,” said Dr. Brian Kaineg, neuroradiology, Quantum Radiology. “That would be ideal because then you could set up a template that everything populates into and the radiologists wouldn’t necessarily need to change the way they’re routinely dictating.”

Increased patient and reporting workloads have created what the president of the World Medical Association has called a “pandemic of physician burnout," according to the report, which is entitled In your words: How AI is advancing the impact of radiology in healthcare. Porter Research conducted the survey between January and March of 2019.

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