The Value of Real-Time Thoracic Radiology Consulting in an Integrated Lung Center Clinic: Bringing the Radiologist to the Center of Multidisciplinary Health Care

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Abstract

Purpose:

We have established an integrated thoracic radiology reading room within a multidisciplinary lung center clinic (LC). While our subjective experience has been positive, we sought to quantify how this model affects radiology workflow and whether the referring practitioners perceive value in having real-time access to a radiologist consultant.

Materials and Methods:

Two diagnostic radiology workstations staffed by rotating thoracic radiologists and trainees were integrated within the LC. We assessed the impact on workflow by recording over 6 months the number, duration, and type of face-to-face radiology consultations to LC practitioners. We also conducted an anonymous survey to assess how LC practitioners felt with regard to the utility and value of our service.

Results:

Face-to-face consultations account for an average of 10% of total time spent by radiologists in the LC, although on busy clinical days this can reach 25% to 30%. Our survey response rate was very high (86.4%, n=51), with overwhelming positive response by referring practitioners, who unanimously rate the usefulness of this service as high (9.8%) or extremely high (90.2%). Not a single respondent had a negative or even neutral view of this service. Moreover, 90.2% thought that radiology consultations directly add clinical value in >60% of episodes, whereas 86.2% responded that these alter management in >40% of episodes.

Conclusions:

Face-to-face radiology consultations in an integrated LC are numerous and comprise a sizable share of radiologist workload. More importantly, the radiologist is highly praised as a consultant, and this service is considered valuable and impactful for patient care.

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