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How to Improve Patient-Provider Communication During the Post-Appointment Stage

Patient Imaging Journey Post-Appointment Stage

Why fast access to imaging results during the final stage of the imaging journey is vital to decreasing patient anxiety and ensuring follow-up adherence.

After patients have had their imaging appointment, they enter into the final phase of their medical imaging journey—the post-appointment stage. Stress levels can be particularly high during this time as patients are required to wait anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to learn the results of their test. According to a 2023 PocketHealth survey, 51% of patients reported feeling elevated levels of anxiety while anticipating what could be a life-changing diagnosis.

The 4 steps of the post-appointment stage

The post-appointment stage begins with patients waiting to receive their imaging results. This carries over to an appointment with the referring physician who reviews these results and helps them understand what they mean. During this stressful stage, which extends through the booking of any recommended follow-up appointments, patients are eager for information that sheds light on any symptoms they have been experiencing.

Steps in Patient Imaging Journey Post-Appointment Stage

3 strategies to help decrease patient anxiety during the post-appointment stage

An effective way to minimize the stress patients may feel while waiting for their imaging results is to provide them with this information as soon as it becomes available. Here are 3 communication strategies to try:

  1. By simplifying patient access to images and reports, providers can eliminate friction for people who want to know their results as soon as possible. An online PocketHealth patient survey found that 72% of patients want to be able to access their results at the same time as their doctor. This access is even more critical when there is a long wait for a follow-up appointment with the referring physician.
  2. Providing tools that make reports easier to understand puts patients in a better position to digest the results. Although any findings are usually discussed during follow-up appointments, 91% of patients included in a 2023 PocketHealth patient survey said they felt having direct report access helped them have better conversations with their doctor.
  3. Ensuring follow-up appointments aren’t missed or that a need for additional imaging isn’t overlooked is especially important given that 60% of follow-up recommendations are never followed up on. Offering patients easy access to their reports helps them stay on top of any required follow-ups, which reduces the risk of missed or delayed treatment.

For more strategies to help increase follow-up adherence and improve patient experience, download Enhancing Patient Engagement: A Guide to Effective Communication Throughout the Patient Imaging Journey.

How patients and providers benefit from timely access to imaging results

According to a 2022 PocketHealth survey, 85% of patients who were given access to their imaging records reported having a better care experience. Patients who can see their medical imaging results at the same time as their doctor are empowered to become more informed and involved in the care they receive. Increasing access to this information doesn’t just reduce anxiety, it heightens satisfaction and increases the likelihood that patients will have a positive encounter with the healthcare system.

By placing a priority on communication during the post-appointment period, providers can also enhance continuity of care and improve the rate of early detection and intervention. As patients become more likely to attend follow-up appointments, providers will undoubtedly enjoy increased operational efficiencies while uncovering new opportunities for generating revenue.

How PocketHealth helps keep patients proactive about their health

Imaging terminology can be complicated and patients may not understand all of the medical terms used in their report. PocketHealth Report Reader makes it easy to understand these complex terms, while the Follow-Up Navigator feature spotlights any follow-up recommendations, helping patients feel more informed, confident and committed to follow-ups throughout the post-appointment stage.

When it comes to imaging result access, sharing is caring

Providing patients with the results of their medical imaging as soon as it is available—and giving them the tools they need to understand these results—helps reduce anxiety and encourages them to participate in post-appointment care.

In addition to making it less likely that a diagnosis will be missed, sharing these imaging
results makes it easier for patients to be better prepared to discuss what they mean with their doctor. Having immediate access to this information also increases patient satisfaction and the likelihood they will attend future follow-up appointments.

For more tips on how to better communicate with patients during all stages of their imaging journey, download Enhancing Patient Engagement: A Guide to Effective Communication Throughout the Patient Imaging Journey.

About PocketHealth

PocketHealth is the first patient-centric image sharing platform, empowering patients with fast access, easy sharing and permanent, secure storage of their medical imaging and reports. By eliminating any network image-sharing dependencies, PocketHealth seamlessly integrates into healthcare systems and creates efficiencies and cost savings for providers while putting patients in control of their healthcare journey. PocketHealth is trusted by over 600 hospitals and imaging centers across North America and is used by more than 1.5 million patients. Request a demo today.

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