You’ve probably noticed, as I have, a growing trend of friends and relatives sharing photos of their medical images on social media. I’ve noted everything from ultrasounds to x-rays increasingly pop up in my Facebook and Instagram feeds. These posts are often to keep friends and family updated with personal developments such as “We’re pregnant!” or “I broke my leg… please send thoughts, prayers and takeout!” But recently, one particular post caught my eye...
A friend of mine posted an image of her x-ray to her Instagram story with a message that I found surprising. While skiing in Jackson Hole, she took a nasty tumble and ended up with a broken hip. Her post gave this personal update, but it also served another purpose: She was seeking a second opinion from her Instagram network. “If anyone knows anything about this type of injury or can refer me to a specialist, please let me know!” read her caption accompanied by a crying emoji and red heart.
I immediately sent a message of condolence (such a disappointment to get injured while skiing, especially on the first day of your trip!), and, curiosity getting the better of me, asked if she received a copy of her x-ray. If so, how did they give it to her - CD, printed copy or online access? She responded, “No, they didn’t give me a copy, but online access would be great! I’ll ask, thank you!”
This scenario occurs all the time - especially during ski season, as you can imagine. Injuries happen while you’re on vacation and you have to seek medical care from a physician you may never see again. It’s critical for patients to get copies of their information from that visit, from medical images to the accompanying reports. It's also an opportunity for savvy physicians to eliminate unnecessary costs and provide better service that benefits everyone, such as online patient access to their medical images.
Providers who don’t deliver patient imaging online spend thousands of dollars on “free” CDs to give to these patients, which may or may not make it back home to the subspecialist or primary care physician who needs to see them. If each disc costs at minimum $8 and you're seeing at least 10 patients each day, that's costing you at least $20,800 per year on the conservative end. These estimates are for a small practice - imagine how huge that number is for a large healthcare organization? What if you could provide the same service - or an even better service - without the expense?
Delivering patients' medical imaging through a secure online system will save your organization thousands of dollars and increase your patient satisfaction - two birds, one stone, right? My friend who had her x-ray done in Jackson Hole was already frustrated about her injury and missing out on the rest of her vacation, as well as being uncomfortable in an unfamiliar healthcare facility far away from home. Now she had to track down a copy of her medical images, which will probably be given to her on a CD. To add to this mounting frustration, she will now have to keep track of that CD for the next several weeks until she can make it into a specialist's office back home. What a relief it would have been to know that she could simply login to her patient account and have access to her images whenever and wherever she needed it. I guarantee she would have gladly paid a $6.50 fee for an easier, more convenient way to get a copy of her x-ray.
Increased patient satisfaction is a real value point for your organization. My friend most likely found her physician in Jackson Hole through referrals either online or a personal recommendation from the ski lodge staff. I know that when I've had to look for urgent care facilities while away from home, I take online reviews into consideration or will ask a local for their recommendation. If you make the imaging process as easy as possible for patients, they'll be singing your praises to anyone who asks for a recommendation.
If you're not already providing online access to patient imaging, why aren't you? We genuinely want to know - please email us at email@example.com and share your thoughts with us. We feel so strongly about this, we're actually paying providers to offer this service.