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Barco - Misperception of the radiologist: ‘Staring at a lightbox is what we did 20 years ago’
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2016
Barco - Misperception of the radiologist: ‘Staring at a lightbox is what we did 20 years ago’ An article that was recently published in Knack magazine accurately touched upon the changing role of the radiology department while raising the issue of ‘the invisible radiologist’. Indeed, several studies report that – although an important member of a patient’s care team – a radiologist is often seen as a technician who takes pictures. Patients don’t know what the responsibilities of the modern radiologist truly entail. Popular media have a crucial role to play in this, say radiologists Erik R. Ranschaert and Olivier Vanovermeire. 

So what does a radiologist do? 

First of all: yes, a radiologist is a doctor - one that completed over 10 years of medical training to become a specialist in performing and interpreting medical imaging exams (like X-rays and MRI scans). They are responsible for the diagnosis – as well as treatment in the case of interventional radiology – of a patient’s condition and interact with referring physicians. They are part of Multi-Disciplinary Teams (where different healthcare specialists come together to assess a patient’s condition and treatment). They guide surgeons real-time during surgery. They interface more and more with patients to discuss imaging exams. They can even provide private services to patients who are looking for a second opinion. 

So where does it go wrong? 

Erik R. Ranschaert, Radiologist at Jeroen Bosch (The Netherlands): “We offer very complex services to ensure high-quality patient care. But most of the time, we are represented as people who are staring at X-ray films on light boxes all day. This is how we worked 20 years ago. The way we are presented in the media – think of medical television series but even in newspapers and magazines – doesn’t always reflect who we are or what we do and could be misleading to patients.” 

Olivier Vanovermeire, Head of Radiology at AZ Groeninge (Belgium), agrees: “There’s a serious gap between public perception and reality. Radiologists are very tech-savvy and the radiology department is often the forerunner when it comes to introducing and adopting new technologies and medical innovations. In fact, our technological innovations are included among those ranked as the most important to patient care(1). It would be nice to see this reflected in popular media as well.”

Today, radiologists no longer view images on film on lightboxes.