Problems with Scan (CT Ultrasound etc)
I would like to tell you a story re digital/virtual health. I m a big fan of virtual health. I use phone consultations with my GP and Oncologist which saves me a lot of time as I don’t have to drive anywhere, or sit around in waiting rooms. I feel much safer (especially during these COVID times ) as I do not have to have contact with others who, because they are at the doctors, are sick.
However, there seems to be a problem that I have not heard others speak of in regard to scans. Many scanning companies no longer give “Films” to the patient anymore; It is all done digitally. This can cause issues for the patient. My story is my husband is sent for a CT scan by his oncologist at a particular scanning place to do check up for his cancer. There is a spot on his kidney so the oncologist sends him to a urologist. The urologist doesn’t have access to that particular scanning place’s digital portal so he wants us to bring a film from the scanning place to him. The scanning place no longer gives out films, so we were in a catch 22 situation. They were willing to give us a CD of the scans so we took that to the specialist. The urologist’s computer didn’t have the correct software to open it so he couldn’t see the scan. He takes the CD and says that one of his interns will work out how to see our scans and he will ring us back with his opinion. We asked him why he didn’t just log into the scanning place’s portal. He told us that he wasn’t willing to support them as they didn’t give out films. He considered a film essential when he was operating on peoples’ kidneys in order that their kidneys are not derived of blood for an extended period. If he had the scan on a computer in the operating theatre and it “crashed” he would have no scan to look at while operating, and the patient outcome could be worse.He sent us home after charging us. It took 3 phone calls by us, to him to get a report on our scan, as finding someone with the computer knowledge to be able to access the CD had proven difficult. The result was to have another CT in 3 months to see if the spot was growing. We were not very impressed with this experience.
After this appointment I contacted the scanning place and informed them about of the problem their no film policy had caused us. They suggested that the specialist log into their portal to see the scans. As mentioned above he wasn’t prepared to do that. Another catch 22 situation for us.
3 months later my husband had another scan (ordered by the oncologist) to see if the spot was growing. The oncologist asked him to go to the same scanning place so that he could see if it was growing because they could compare this scan with the previous scan. We did this. The result was that it had grown so the oncologist told us to see a urologist. As we weren’t very impressed with the previous urologist (see paragraph above) we asked to be sent to a different urologist. He was at Penrith . Having learnt our lesson from the previous experience we downloaded my husband’s scans from the scanning place’s website onto a UBS stick. This took a long time as the scans are very big files and our computer is old. We took the UBS stick to the specialist only to find that he did not have enough memory on his computer to download the scans (there were several scans as he needed to work out if the spot was growing) so he couldn’t look at them. He decided to take the UBS stick to the hospital next time he was there as they have a better computer system than him. However, that wasn’t until the next week, so we still don’t have an answer to my husband’s problem. As of today we are waiting for the intern at the hospital to get back to the specialist. We ask the specialist why he couldn’t just log on to the website of the scanning place to look at his scans and were told that he did not have access to that particular scanning place’s website because it was in a different area (The scanning place was in Wentworthville, he was in Penrith). He only has access to local scanning place’s portals. He also told us that even if he did have access to the portal he wouldn’t be able to see the scans as he hadn’t ordered them, and most scanning places for privacy reasons, only allow the clinician who ordered the scan to see them. In the “old days” we (the patient) would have a physical film that we took from GP to specialist to specialist (if needed).
I am not in anyway suggesting we go back to the “film” days but I am suggesting that a better way be found to share scans between clinicians so as not to cause distress and time delays to the patient and therefore increase the likelihood of poor patient outcomes. There is also considerable loss of time for the clinicians as they need to chase around to find how to access the scans. There must be a better way.