As we discussed in our previous blog post, whomever took your scan legally owns the image. Despite that, we raised several reasons that patients should be interested in controlling their own images. But where do my doctors fit into this puzzle?
Dynamite in the Patient’s Hands
While it seems obvious that patient-focused-physicians (and most are) might agree to enable their patients’ access to their own images, we have seen this backfire. One patient of whom we are aware, got a copy of a recent scan, decided on her own that she was deathly ill, and immediately increased her life insurance policy. So it’s not surprising that we’ve encountered physicians who are hesitant to release images, at least until they have had a chance to diagnose and discuss their opinion with their patient. We’ve also encountered physicians who were concerned that their patients might take these images on their own to obtain a second opinion that might be contrary to their own diagnosis, perhaps leading to malpractice claims.
It’s a Generational Thing
We have found anecdotally that a doctor’s propensity to encourage sharing images with their patient was often based upon how long they have been practicing medicine. A generation ago, doctors were revered by their patients and their opinions were the gospel for treatment. Doctors felt no need to go beyond their own experience to diagnose and treat their patients. But the realities of medicine (and patient mobility) in this current generation is that more opinions are better than one. And with digital technology enabling the efficient transfer and sharing of images, doctors today are much more willing to seek other’s views.
Most doctors agree to provide their patients with copies of their images today. And since the law says patients who ask must ultimately be granted access, we see this trend expanding in the future. So while you might run into temporary obstacles, it is always good practice to ask for your own copy of your images.
Thanks for reading this series of blogs; be sure to visit our previous blog posts for the rest of the story. We will end this blog series on patient access to medical images with how technology both supports and hinders patients' image access.