How to make emotional connections with patients through image sharing

Belimar Velazquez, MBA, Director of Marketing and Inside Sales, United States & Canada, Carestream

Belimar Velazquez, MBA, Director of Marketing and Inside Sales, United States & Canada, Carestream

Healthcare providers work every day to deliver the best quality of care and the best experience to their patients. In many cases, a provider’s compassionate care creates a special bond and once this connection is created, patient satisfaction and loyalty is established.

However, in some cases, as is the case for radiology professionals, this emotional connection is a little harder to establish.  Consider the “invisible radiologist”:

  • 80 % of radiologists don’t meet their patients
  • 50 % of adults surveyed don’t know that radiologists interpret x-rays
  • Focus group participants were split as to “whether a radiologist is a licensed physician or a technician”

Yet, images – the very medium that defines the radiology role – presents a unique opportunity to establish connections. Think about the rampant proliferation of image sharing online:

Image sharing apps like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat all have one purpose in common to connect and elicit an emotional reaction through images (and words).  Imaging professionals are at the right place and the right time to help the enterprise establish an emotional connection with their patients through image sharing.

And guess what?  Patients want to see their radiology images and they want to share them.  We partnered with IDR Medical to conduct a survey of 1000 patients across the US with various backgrounds and found that patients place great value on the ability to share images online:

  • 61 % want to share their medical images with family members and friends
  • 88 % want to share with other physicians
  • Only 4 % would not share their own images

A recent Diagnostic Imaging meme portrayed just this fact.


While the meme was supposed to be funny, a quick search on Instagram shows this image sharing is happening now for mammograms, ultrasounds and x-rays:

Ultrasound Mammogram X-Ray
3,645 photos tagged 5,736 photos tagged 1,571 photos tagged

*Source Webstagram Search  – various hastags indicating images in each category, i.e. xraypictures, ultrasoundpic, mammogramscan

How do you put images into the hands of your patients to build this emotional connection?

The radiology community can turn to secure applications that allow patients and radiologists to share images.   These applications, usually compatible with the EHR/EMR, allow radiologists to establish communication with the patient and “tell a story” through both, images and words.  Here’s how it works:


Building an emotional connection through image sharing can bring radiologists out of the dark and directly influence patient satisfaction. Our patient attitudes study found that:

  • 79 % of patients would return to a practice that offers online image access
  • 77 % would refer family and friends to a practice that offers online image access

What do you think? Can online image sharing play a more role in fostering direct connections with patients? 

Seven Reasons Why the DRX-Revolution is a Rad Tech’s Dream Machine

Don Thompson, Digital Capture Solutions, Marketing Manager, Carestream U.S. & Canada

Don Thompson, Digital Capture Solutions, Marketing Manager, Carestream U.S. & Canada

The social media phenomenon of sharing motivational quotes has infiltrated our professional lives. Yesterday on LinkedIn a connection posted an image with this statement:

“The most dangerous phrase in the language is

‘We’ve always done it this way.'”

— Grace Hopper, American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral.

A simple and poignant point about challenging yourself and your organization to break from tradition and create better ways to work.

One aspect of a radiology department that, until recently, suffered from stagnation was portable imaging. People did things in mobile imaging for so long that they believed there was no other way to do it.

When we developed the CARESTREAM DRX-Revolution we wanted to do something that had never been done before. We really wanted to design the DRX-Revolution from the ground up to be a digital portable x-ray system that was more efficient for radiologic technologists.

To do this we not only went to more than 50 healthcare sites, but we also observed rad techs conducting exams. We even returned to the sites to show them design sketches and get their input.

With the DRX-Revolution portable rounds are now different. Finally technologists have an easy mobile DR system that was designed for the way they want to work, not the way they’ve always done things.

So in the spirit of motivational quote sharing, here are seven reasons – told in quotes from DRX-Revolution users – why a portable imaging system that challenged norms is now most likely to be the machine in a rad tech’s dreams:

  1. “Technologists stand in line waiting for the DRX-Revolution to come back from a portable because they want to use the Revolution. The collapsible column allows the technologist to see over the portable machine so we are certainly able to see anyone coming down the hallway.” – Mike Foley, Director of Radiology, Physical & Occupational Therapy, Tufts Medical Center

    The moveable, collapseable column is one of the many benefits rad techs love about the DRX-Revolution.

    The moveable, collapseable column is one of the many benefits rad techs love about the DRX-Revolution.

  2. “An image recall feature allows technologists to pull up the last three exams for each patient and copy the techniques that were used to help ensure consistency.       Two technologists conduct 20-25 inpatient exams each morning in just 45 minutes. It used to take four technologists 1.5 hours with CR-based portable systems.” – Chief Technologist Chris Vineyard, University Health System, San Antonio
  3. “With wireless technology, they no longer have to watch out for the various cords that once tethered detectors to the X-ray machine. Wireless, digital X-ray technology makes our jobs a lot more efficient and a lot easier. There’s less running between patients rooms, and if we get a bad image, we can retake it immediately.” – Susan Moody, Radiologic Technologist and Clinical Manager of Portable and OR imaging, University of Rochester Medical Center
  4. “Thanks to its powerful 32kW generator and DRX detector, we have lowered exposures—and the tube and grid alignment system simultaneously enhances image quality by facilitating grid use.” – Chris Schneider, Director of Radiology Imaging Services, Brookhaven Memorial Hospital
  5. “DRX-Revolution systems contain an automatic radio frequency identification (RFID) reader that signs in technologists using RFID chips in their badges. This automatic process ensures that we have an accurate record of which technologist is using the machine for each exam. It’s also much more convenient for the techs. By the time they touch the machine, they are already logged in for use.” – Todd Stanley, Administrative Director of Radiology, IU Health Methodist Hospital
  6. “DR technology made it easier to keep the images attached to the correct patient, even when they came into the hospital without identification. While everyone was double-checking patient IDs on exam orders, the portable digital systems also allowed the techs to edit the exam information, if it needed to be corrected, before sending the images to radiologists. There wasn’t a lot of handoff of paperwork and handoff of cassettes. Because it was digital, it really cut down on errors.” – Elisabeth Grady, General Diagnostic Manager of the Radiology Department, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  7. “Having two review screens comes in handy when the technologists are working by themselves. If they are on the far side they can select what they need to right on the tubehead without leaving the patient’s bedside.” – Kathy Morreale, Charge Technologist, Hamilton General Hospital

Are you ready to get the DRX-Revolution out of your dreams and into your department? Learn more and contact us.

Four Radiology Department Improvements Unlocked by the DRX-Revolution

Don Thompson, Digital Capture Solutions, Marketing Manager, Carestream U.S. & Canada

Don Thompson, Marketing Manager, Carestream U.S. & Canada

Patient experience. Cost containment. Clinical Quality. Physician alignment.

A recent Advisory Board blog post about the CXO perspective of imaging success reported that the C-Suite places more importance on these factors than volume growth.

It’s no surprise that provider priorities are changing. In response to this change imaging leaders are seizing the opportunity to adopt the broader system’s objectives and success measures.

This service line realignment becomes even more important during purchasing decisions. Radiology administrators must be able to demonstrate the impact of a new technology
investment on the right institutional objective.

Consider how the CARESTREAM DRX-Revolution helped these four DRX_Revolution_Image_09_Upright_Column
radiology departments:

  1. Clinical quality – “The DRX-Revolution helps our neonatologists improve care by delivering exceptional image quality and has also helped enable our staff to reduce dose by more than half. The ability to lower dose is especially important for pediatric patients due to the harmful effects of radiation on children and also because these very ill babies often require frequent X-ray exams. The DRX-Revolution automatically displays the previous technique so that we can ensure imaging consistency, which is especially important to help physicians detect changes in these very small patients. Physicians also report that being able to view images at the tubehead when they are inserting PICC lines and other devices is especially helpful because they no longer have to leave the bedside to verify correct placement. This speeds the process and reduces discomfort for these very fragile patients.” – Brad Hellwig, Director of Radiology, and Beth Wilson, Manager of Radiology, Crouse Hospital
  2. Cost containment – “We have reduced our fleet of portable imaging systems by one-third. Carestream’s DRX detectors can also be moved to another mobile imaging system. So if one of our existing portable systems goes down, we can move the detector to another unit,– Juanita Reader, RT(R), Manager of Diagnostic Radiology In-Patient and Informatics, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center
  3. Patient experience – “With the DRX detector, images are available over a wireless network in about five seconds, which can expedite diagnosis and treatment. This also eliminates the time-consuming process of transporting cassettes to a CR system for processing. The detector is light and it’s much easier for technologists to position correctly because the detector offers a full field of view. Detectors that are larger than the size of the image they capture are more difficult to work with.”  –  Tina Harvey, RT (R), Radiology Manager, Baylor University Medical Center
  4. Physician Alignment – “The DRX-Revolution also delivers process improvements for everyone involved in the imaging workflow—from technologists to physicians, radiologists and specialists. Since images from the portable systems are available in about five seconds, physicians can make rapid decisions that can improve patient care. The hospital’s technologists worked with radiologists to create new techniques for portable exams that lowered the dose while optimizing image quality. When Carestream’s consultant came to the site for training, she displayed four views of the same exposure so radiologists could select their preferred display preference. We didn’t even know it was possible to do this but it made our radiologists extremely happy.” – Chief Technologist Chris Vineyard, University Health System, San Antonio

Have you explored how a change in portable imaging strategy could contribute to your organizational goals?

Learn how one of American’s top hospitals – Indiana University Methodist Hospital –  converted from portable CR systems to DRX technology to improve physician satisfaction and boost staff morale here.

Four Reasons Why Medical Images Must Be Included in Patient Portals

Ami Halperin, R&D PACS Product Manager, Carestream

Ami Halperin, R&D PACS Product Manager, Carestream

Electronic health and medical records (EHRs and EMRs) are commonplace in today’s medical environments. The rise in use of digitized records is in an effort to improve efficiency for physicians, and establish improved channels of communication between doctors and patients.

Often left out of the patient engagement equation are medical images. The biggest reason behind this is that radiologists and patients do not often interact. Radiologists typically send the images directly to the referring physician, leaving the patient in the dark.

As a testament to the importance of including medical images in the patient portal, we offer four reasons why patients should have access:

  1. Completes the health record. The health record does not start and end with data. The medical images provide a complete picture of patients’ history. Providing patients with access to the images in addition to data gives them a detailed and more complete picture of their exams and health history.


    A patient portal with medical images can improve patient engagement rates for physicians.

  2. Structures the reporting. Adding images to the report makes the information easier to understand, allowing the patient to match reference numbers to the image they correlate with. When patients are engaged and can easily read their reports, they’re more likely to return to the portal.
  3. Connects patients to their physicians. While an obvious benefit to patient portals as a whole, the inclusion of medical images sweetens the deal. In a study with IDR Medical, we found that 79% of patients would be more likely to return to a facility that offers medical images via a portal and 76% indicated they would recommend the facility to others.
  4. Brings the radiologist into the picture. Radiologists often do not have the chance to interact with patients. Including medical images in a patient portal enables the radiologist to become involved by providing more context around the images and accompanying reports. At this year’s American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) annual meeting, one study showed that 47% of participants would appreciate having contact information for the radiologist who interpreted their exam, and 14% wanted to have the option to meet with the radiologist.

The patient portal creates new communication channels and enhances the relationship between patient and physician. This is a capability that patients are coming to expect from their health providers facilities’ are working on making it a reality.

For more information about patients’ reactions and thoughts on using patient portals, you can click the link to download the study conducted by IDR Medical.


Transforming Healthcare through Big Data – SIIM 2014 Opening General Session

JoAnn Linder, Director Global Marketing Communications, Carestream

JoAnn Linder, Director Global Marketing Communications, Carestream

Katherine Andriole PhD, FSIIM, opened SIIM 2014 with the ‘wave of big data’ sharing a history of inventions showcasing amazing technological advancements over a very short period of time. Historically, big data was managed in the format of ‘big iron,’ which consisted of computing power, storage, no internet, and available access for few.

Big Data Wave

We’ve now embarked on the next phase of big data–the promise of predictive healthcare. The future of big data management will take all available multi-disciplinary, multi-modality information from disparate sources and use integration, analysis and visualization to let the data tell the story.

There are multiple models for depicting big data’s impact, one of them being the 3V Model, which encompasses velocity, volume and variety. All three of these vectors are represented in our healthcare system data:

  1. Velocity: Processing speed
  2. Volume: Data quantity
  3. Variety: Types of data such as genetic, demographic, clinical, and social

Not one of these V’s is a massive challenge, but the combination of all three makes the situation a promise for our future that requires collaboration for success. Andriole emphasized access to the data as the biggest challenge in addition to storage, access to biomedical information, security, privacy, and visualization.

Referencing Samuel J. Dwyer, Andriole asked the audience to get on the big data wave by doing the following:

  • Work across disciplines- engineering, informatics, physics and biomedicine
  • Understand the application environment
  • Engage with industry partners
  • Collaborate to solve problems

How has big data affected your organization? Is your organization using big data to drive change in how care is being provided to patients?

Q&A: Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

Ron Muscosky, Worldwide Product Line Manager, HCIS, Carestream

Ron Muscosky, Worldwide Product Line Manager, HCIS, Carestream

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is becoming increasingly popular in healthcare, but there are still many uncertainties surrounding it. Below are common questions healthcare organizations are asking about DBT and it is my goal to provide as thorough and accurate of answers as possible to demonstrate this technology’s value.

1.   What is DBT and how does it differ from/compare to traditional mammograms?      

DBT is a mammography procedure that uses low dose X-rays to create a three-dimensional image of the breast. Also referred to as ‘3D mammography’, the tomosynthesis scanner partially rotates around the breast and takes about 10 to 15 images from many different angles. As with traditional mammograms, the breast is compressed during the exam. The radiologist can then view the breast tissue in narrow slices, similarly to CT scan images.

 2. What benefits does DBT provide to physicians and patients?

With two-dimensional mammography, overlapping tissue can mask suspicious areas. Since thin layers of breast tissue are viewed with DBT, the overlap is removed and abnormalities are much easier to recognize. Studies have shown improved tissue identification, improved tumor visualization, and a lower recall rate for additional testing. Because of this, digital breast tomosynthesis has the potential to improve on the accuracy of mammography.


3. What are the challenges health facilities face when implementing DBT?

Financial:  Cost is a challenge due to the lack of reimbursement.  As patients become more aware of the benefits that DBT can bring, they’re asking for it.  Even with the lack of reimbursement, many facilities are adding DBT to prevent a loss of patients to other facilities offering this technology, and/or to provide better patient care.

Technical: Technical challenges include the size and format of DBT data.  DBT images can be very large, several times the size of conventional mammograms, so the transfer and storage of this data can be challenging.  Additionally, some acquisition device vendors have been generating data in a proprietary format (due to the lack of a DICOM standard format in the past), and in some cases still storing data in a proprietary format.  This presents challenges for healthcare facilities looking to standardize their data or use a mixture of vendor products.

Product:  As healthcare facilities add DBT to their breast imaging procedures, many are finding that their existing storage and viewing solutions do not yet support this technology.  This presents the facilities with the challenge of how they are going to store and view this data.

Workflow: DBT creates more data than a a conventional mammogram, increasing the time to read a case.  Just like when digital mammography was first introduced, users are experiencing a learning curve with reading the images with the use of workstations and the tools they provide.   In addition, some workstation vendors have very limited, if any, tools to optimize the reading of DBT exams, which magnifies the challenge.

4. How do providers overcome these challenges?

Financial:  Some facilities are absorbing the costs by marketing the value of  DBT and bringing in more patients.  Others are charging the customer an extra fee to help offset the costs.

Technical:  The data size challenge is overcome by careful planning of the network infrastructure and storage requirements.  Acquisition device manufacturers are recommending a 1Gbps network to accommodate the image transfers, so facilities are either planning for this when building new or upgrading their existing infrastructure.  We have found that in addition to adequate network bandwidth, the use of lossless compression and intelligent routing/pre-fetching of data are extremely important to efficiently move such large amounts of data around transparently to the user.  This is especially true when reading is performed across multiple facilities and/or remotely.

Regarding the data format, DICOM now supports a new SOP Class that specifies how such data can be transmitted in a standardized format for interoperability between various vendors’ equipment.  Most acquisition device vendors have adopted this standard, but existing proprietary data, and in some cases newly acquired data, still remain in proprietary formats.  To address this issue, some acquisition device vendors are offering a service where the proprietary data can be converted to DICOM standardized data.  This needs to be planned for ahead of any implementation of DICOM compliant equipment, since the conversion process can take some time to complete.

Product:  Facilities that add DBT and find their existing solutions don’t support this technology are faced with either waiting for their existing solution to support this technology or purchasing another product that will provide such capabilities.  Due to the importance of DBT, many facilities are choosing to replace or adjunct their existing solution with a product that supports this technology.

Workflow: We believe the learning curve radiologists are experiencing with the DBT technology will decrease over time, just as it did with digital mammography when it was first available.

The tools provided by an equipment vendor can also significantly decrease the time to read a DBT exam.  It is important that a facility chooses a product with the appropriate tools to optimize their workflow.  This includes not only the basic tools that automatically scale and position both 2D and 3D images, but also advanced tools that can help localize pathology and allow one to quickly navigate both current and prior studies.  With conventional mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis, synthetic 2D mammography, and other mammography procedures being generated (e.g. breast US, breast MRI, etc.), workstations with hanging protocols that can support and display all of these in an efficient manner become extremely important as well.

5. What are the key points you hope attendees will take away from your panel discussion at SIIM? 

Although there are a number of challenges with implementing DBT, solutions exist for each challenge and that will only improve in time as the technology matures.  It is also important for attendees to plan their environment and product selections, knowing what challenges have been faced by others and how they have been resolved.

 Editor’s Note: Ron will be participating in a panel session on “Problems and Solutions in Breast Tomosynthesis” during SIIM 2014. The session will be held on Thursday, May 15 from 12-1 pm in Exhibit Hall B – Innovation Theater.

Don’t Get Lost in Translation

Cristen Bolan, Executive Editor, Applied Radiology

Cristen Bolan, Executive Editor, Applied Radiology

Radiologists Add Real Value through Concise Communication

When the ER doc read my results from an ultrasound, all I heard was doom and gloom. In the report, the radiologist recommended a follow-up MRI, meanwhile the doctor told me I probably had cancer due to the appearance of blood flow to a small mass.

After two days of begging for the follow-up MRI, they found that there was there was no cancer – a gallstone had traveled into the biliary tract. That shouldn’t have been a surprise since I already had an appointment to have my gallbladder removed at the same hospital. Cancer was the ER doctor’s interpretation — not the radiologist’s conclusion. What ended up almost killing me was the anxiety I endured from the doctor’s strong certainty that I had cancer, which made me fear for my life and for the well being of my two small children.

An estimated 80% of serious medical errors occur between caregivers during the transfer of patients.1 These errors lead to more adverse events, more hospital readmissions, more unnecessary duplication of care, and higher costs.1 Clearly, the transfer of patient information falls within this category.

In the world of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) radiologists will be tasked with demonstrating their value to the patient. At RSNA last year, Mary C. Mahoney, MD, chair of RSNA’s Patient-Centered Radiology Steering Committee Chair, said radiologists must be portrayed “as knowledgeable physicians and show they are patient advocates by demonstrating concern and knowledge about safety and risks.” But how do you demonstrate value to the patient when the results get lost in translation?

How can radiologists show their value? It’s hard to nail down a number, but in theory, as Bibb Allen Jr., MD, vice-chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors says, there would be a “measurable role for radiologists in improving population health and we would have a calculation of radiology’s value in reducing per capita cost.”

Lowering per capita cost may be immediately evident through imaging appropriateness. ACO’s may provide a framework for control costs by reducing avoidable, duplicative resources, but what about measurable improvements to population health?

Interpreting a radiology report just doesn’t cut it these days. This may require quantifying and tracking all the non-interpretation value-added activities, such as hours spent on conferences, committees, transcription time, teaching, and research. And how is this extra time supposed to cut down on cost? Radiologists are already doing these things, but it looks like CME credits are just not enough.

If you really want to add value to patients – go back the basics and ensure the referring physicians get the story straight before hitting the panic button. From the patient’s perspective, that might actually have a real impact on the patient experience.


1. Joint Commission Center for transforming healthcare releases targeted solutions tool for hand-off communications. Joint Commission Perspectives. 2012;32:8.

Guess the X-ray–May’s Image Challenge

Happy Spring! Last month we had another difficult image–a motorcycle helmet— but congratulations to the person who guessed it correctly. Below is the image for May’s “Guess the X-ray”. Please leave your comments below or on our Facebook page. The challenge will run until May 31, or until the first person correctly names the item in the image.  Good luck!

Sorry…Carestream employees and their agencies are prohibited from entering.

May's Image Challenge