Patients can message radiologists through the EHR with MUSC developed tool

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Charleston-based Medical University of South Carolina researchers developed a digital messaging tool that allows patients to send radiologists questions about imaging results within the EHR, Radiology Business reports.

Researchers published their study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The team developed the system at an academic children's hospital that already had an EHR and built-in patient portal. Researchers launched the system at the hospital in 2017. With the messaging tool, patients can send questions to an inbox within the EHR that various radiologists at the hospital can access. Any authorized radiologist can reply to a patient's message, rather than just the one provider who completed the patient's report.

"Although patients generally favor speaking with their own physicians about results of radiology studies, many physicians are ill equipped to answer specific imaging questions if it is out of their area of expertise," Morgan McBee, MD, one of the study's authors, said, according to the report.

The researchers analyzed the system results from October 2017 to July 2018. They found that of the questions patient sent, 47 percent were related to the availability of imaging results, 20 percent were for clarification and 13 percent were asking to view the images.

Researchers concluded that while the messaging system did possess some limitations, such as potential confusion among radiologists using the shared inbox, 70 percent of radiologists used the system and the average response time was 5.1 hours.

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