Rachel A. Hitt, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Radiology and Director of Patient Experience and Clinician Engagement for the University of North Carolina (UNC) Department of Radiology, contributed this piece.

In recent years, the adaptation of patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) has grown tremendously within the field of radiology. PFCC is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among healthcare providers, patients, families and caregivers, leading to better health outcomes, improved patient and family experience of care, better clinician and staff satisfaction, and wiser allocation of resources. Providing a patient-forward experience is dependent upon a multitude of factors, one of which is patient engagement. As radiologists, our role in healthcare extends beyond the reading room and into direct patient engagement, particularly considering the ongoing shift to a value-based patient care system like PFCC.

My roles as an Associate Professor of Radiology and Director of Patient Experience and Clinician Engagement have magnified the importance of communication and engagement with patients, families and physicians. Since the fall of 2022, I was able to facilitate a Communication Workshop for radiology residents and fellows at UNC at Chapel Hill. The program is based on a modified curriculum of the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) paired with the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Communication Curriculum.

My Communication Workshop is a hybrid of didactic learning followed by interactive role-playing, where all participants have an opportunity to participate in observation, feedback and contribution. Examples of the role-playing topics include giving bad news to a patient, managing a disgruntled referring physician, telling a patient and/or caregiver about an adjusted care plan, speaking with a patient concerned about radiation exposure and talking with the parents of a pediatric patient. Didactic learning includes short video demonstrations of the skill sets from the perspective of radiologists. Similar workshops were developed for technologists and front desk personnel. Ultimately, the program opens the discussion on the importance of healthcare communication as part of a patient- and family-centered approach to care.

In addition to the Communication Curriculum, the ACR Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care (CPFCC) offers several resources to help radiologists and trainees enhance patient experience skills, such as infographics, articles, podcasts, toolkits and more. The recently named CPFCC Director, Tiffany Gowen, is working to increase the footprint of patient-centered care within the greater radiology community through multidisciplinary partnerships and the expansion of resources and tools.

Will you join us in the pursuit of enhancing high-value patient care? Please feel free to reach out with questions, for guidance or to partner in this endeavor.

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