March 2016

Patients and professionals met at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR), held in Vienna on March 2-6, to discuss the best ways of implementing a patient-centred approach in clinical radiology.

The aim of the ECR session Patient-centred care in clinical radiology: do we really put our patients first?, held on March 5, was to explore concrete examples of best practice in implementing patient-centred care in the radiology department and how these might be replicated by providing both the patients’ and radiologists’ perspectives. The session was organised by the ESR Patient Advisory Group (ESR-PAG).

Nicola Bedlington, Secretary General of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and chair of the ESR-PAG, who co-chaired the session together with Dr. Peter Cavanagh, former chair of the ESR Audit & Standards Subcommittee, pointed out that this session perfectly reflects the growing importance of patient empowerment not only from the patients’ point of view but also from the professionals’ side.

Dr. Cavanagh opened the session by introducing the ESR driver diagram on patient-centred care in clinical radiology, which was developed by the ESR-PAG in close collaboration with the ESR Audit & Standards Subcommittee and launched during a session at ECR 2015.

The driver diagram is intended to provide examples of best practices and improve quality of care. The core aim is to deliver “effective, inclusive and personalised care and communication with and about the patient”. It thus specifies so-called primary and secondary drivers for delivering patient-centred care. Underscoring the necessity of “understanding quality from a patient’s perspective” and the clear need to embed this perspective in the framework of the driver diagram to ensure effective patient-centred care, he also explained that improving quality is deeply connected to several key indicators such as effectiveness, safety, access, patient-centred, equitable and efficiency of healthcare practice.

Donna Walsh, speaking on behalf of the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA), stated that she was “delighted to hear that the ESR is increasing the involvement of patients in its work, since patients have a subjective and valid view point based on actual experience about where quality could and should be improved.” To her the involvement of patients not only in the development of a framework and guidance for improved quality of care but also in the audit process of the resulting standards is essential for implementing an effective and sustainable patient-centred approach.

Dr. Dominique Carrié, a radiologist from Toulouse, France, introduced the work of his radiology department on the assessment of patient satisfaction in order to improve the delivery of high quality and patient-centred care. In 2008, Dr. Carrié’s department first introduced a thorough anonymous questionnaire in order to evaluate the patients’ perception of his department’s performance. Since then, his department has been collecting the responses on the patients’ satisfaction regarding waiting times, information (website etc.), admittance (i.e. friendliness), examination types and examination performance. 
According to Dr. Carrié the response rate to the questionnaire is rather low, however, the efforts proved to be beneficial as it provides not only an opportunity for patients to express themselves but also encourages the radiologists and their team to continuously improve their quality of care.

“The concerns of the professionals working in a radiological department differ substantially from the concerns of the patients. It is therefore inevitable to consider the patients’ point of view when auditing the performance of your department.” said Dr. Carrié.

Erik Briers PhD, representing EuropaUomo (European Prostate Cancer Coalition) welcomed the initiative and underscored the importance of a holistic inclusive approach, but called on the radiologists to keep a feasible implementation strategy in mind: “Ask the patients, involve them, make a list, make a plan and, most important, execute the plan!”. 

The session culminated in an exchange of views based on the following key questions: does your department perform well in patient-centred care? Is it really all about the patient?

Overall, the session and the presentations were well received and in particular the ESR’s efforts in combining a patient and professional approach were applauded.
It was concluded that the continued exchange of views and communication are essential for improving the quality of care in clinical radiology to the benefit of the patient.

The ESR Patient Advisory Group (ESR-PAG) was launched at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in 2013. The aim of the group is to bring together patients, the public and imaging professionals to positively influence advances in the field of medical imaging and to foster a patient-centred approach in the work of ESR.
Further information on the composition as well as the objectives and activities of the group can be found in the Quality & Safety section of the ESR website.