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Dec 12, 2017

Empowering the people behind the image

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

Philips Diagnostic Imaging leader Kees Wesdorp discusses how connecting data, technology and people can improve imaging outcomes and shorten the path to a confident diagnosis.

Kees Wesdorp leads Philips’ Diagnostic Imaging business group. Here, he answers questions about how considering the needs of key stakeholders is driving innovation across Philips’ imaging portfolio.


Q: What does Philips mean by “empowering the people behind the image”?



With the goal of shortening the path to a confident diagnosis and treatment, health systems must look at the needs of many stakeholders – patients, technologists, radiologists, administrators – and understand their unique concerns and challenges. Our view of imaging is based on the idea that a deeper understanding of each person’s experience can pro­vide important insights that help patients, clinicians and administrators fulfill their respective roles with less stress and more confidence.


Q: How is people-centered imaging different from patient-centered imaging?



Healthcare is foremost about patients, but in order to make the patient experience better - all the people involved in healthcare have to work better – individually and with each other. We know there are many people involved in the acquisition and interpretation of every clinical image. 

We call this the imaging ecosystem in which everyone has a unique set of requirements to do their job well. Supporting and connecting these people in a truly meaningful manner is directly related to creating value for patients.

At RSNA 2017, our focus on empowering the people behind the image was very well received based on the interactions I had with customers, radiologists and other stakeholders.

Q: Can you explain why it’s important to see imaging as a system?



From electronic medical records to picture archiving, communications systems (PACS), clinical databases and billing systems, health data is often distributed and sequestered across many applications and departments. This makes it hard to compile a comprehensive view of individual patients and populations. We’re approaching imaging as an ecosystem in which tech­nology and data connect seamlessly to empower all the stakeholders involved in imaging to create diagnostic-quality images. By merging data with clinical expertise at the modality and image processing levels, we can help streamline the path to a confident diagnosis and provide the greatest value to patients, providers and health systems.


Q: What is an example of a patient need in the imaging ecosystem?


Comfort is a primary one. Whether it’s a routine procedure or an acute situation, a patient’s level of comfort and stress can impact the diagnostic imaging process – from the physiological effects of stress on image acquisition in PET/CT1 to stress-related movement that can impede high-value, completed scans in MR and other modalities. We recently investigated patient needs in imaging with a first-of-its-kind, imaging-focused comprehensive patient study. Our Patient Experience in Imaging research  looked at some 600 diagnostic imaging patients in terms of their satisfaction, expectations, preferences and unmet needs. The results showed that patients identified communication, comfort and safety as very important.


Q: Does patient comfort have clinical and operational impacts?



Yes. Research into the effects of patient stress on behavioral and physiological factors critical to imaging quality are revealing the significant clinical, operational and financial impact of patient-centered imaging. In a study evaluating 172 patients undergoing diagnostic exams, 69 percent experienced high levels of anxiety – which can lead to hyperactivity of the autonomic nervous system and produce symptoms that can directly influence exam results.2 In another study, anxiety symptoms – including increased heart rate and blood pressure – were reported in up to 30 percent of patients undergoing MRI scans.3  In addition, a range of stress-induced behaviors, including inability to lie still, hold the breath for the required time or cope with being in a small, enclosed space, can affect the clarity and quality of images. In a recent article in, Creating Positive Experiences in Specialty Care Settings, Dr. Jennifer Kemp, diagnostic radiologist at Diversified Radiology, made a strong point that if patients are less fearful because they know what to expect, they will be better able to comply with imaging exam requirements such as holding their breath. Dr. Kemp noted how even a simple thing such as telling patients how long they are going to have to hold their breath can make a big difference. 


Q: What is the financial impact of ignoring the human factor in imaging?



As global healthcare spending continues to rise, cost containment in imaging will remain a major concern for health systems. The prevalence of low-value imaging – and efforts to reduce it by targeting imaging appropriateness, acquisition and quality parameters – will be prioritized, especially in high-cost modalities.

An investigation by Dr. Jalal Andre at the University of Washington School of Medicine identified motion artifacts (blurring of an image caused by respiratory, muscular or other patient movement) as the cause of repeated sequences in about 20 percent of MRI exams.4

He calculated the financial consequence of repeat sequences due to motion artifacts to be about $115,000 of potential revenue lost per scanner per year. Moreover, the need for repeat imaging can create a cascade effect, increasing delays throughout the day with fewer patients imaged. 

Q: How does reducing patient stress relate to the other people behind the image?



Patient stress affects radiology technologists who are often the one human link between patients and imaging equipment. Providing technologists with a supportive work environment may decrease burnout and increase work flow. An article in Radiology Business, Happy staff, happy patient: empowering radiology staff for a better patient experience, by Amber Pokorney, chief research MRI technologist at Phoenix Children's Hospital, discusses the demands placed on radiology technologists in the current healthcare environment. 


Q: Why is taking an ecosystem approach good for radiologists?



It’s not just good, it’s critical as this approach is what is needed to make the most meaningful connections required toward a confident diagnosis. Clearly, acquiring quality images is the first step to a confident diagnosis.

But radiologists face significant challenges in interpreting images, starting with the sheer number of facts they need to consider per clinical decision. Accessing relevant data, mining it and making context-driven conclusions is time consuming and stressful.

To address this need, we’re focused on innovations grounded in artificial intelligence that anticipate radiologists’ need for information and image interpretation to support confident decision-making. 

Q: Finally, how is Philip helping radiology administrators meet their challenges?



We’re helping administrators and executive teams take a strategic approach to imaging operations with tools for continuous improvement. Our Per­formanceBridge Practice is a comprehensive, data-driven solution that assesses customers’ operational challenges and empowers them to make decisions to guide more strategic, efficient and effective practice. This provides insights and directional support dedicated to assisting department leadership in decision-making, helping radiology practices adapt to continuous change and creating value for the healthcare system.


Q: How would you sum up Philips’ approach to redefining the value of imaging?



As a company finding ways to make life better, our imaging innovation focuses on making the imaging process better for all the people behind the image. We work with customers as strategic partners to seamlessly connect data, technology and people to speed and streamline the path to confident diagnosis for better outcomes at lower cost.


  1. Intervention to lower anxiety of 18F-FDG PET/CT patients by use of audiovisual imagery during the uptake phase before imaging. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology 2012 40:92-98 published ahead of print May 8, 2012. 
  2. F. Muscarneri. Evaluation of anxiety level in patients waiting to undergo diagnostic radiological exams. European Society of Radiology. 2013. 

  3. Grey SJ, Price G, Mathews A. Reduction of anxiety during MR imaging: a controlled trial. Magn Reson Imaging. 2000; 18:351-55.
  4. Andre JB, Bresnahan BW, Mossa-Basha M, et al. Toward quantifying the prevalence, severity, and cost associated with patient motion during clinical MR examinations. J Am Coll Radiol. 2015; 12:689-95. 

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Kees Wesdorp

Kees Wesdorp

Former Chief Business Leader Precision Diagnosis

Kees Wesdorp led Philips’ Precision Diagnosis business cluster from 2020 to the end of 2022.  

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