Here is a really neat study that found that adding a picture of a patient’s face on a CT scan caused doctors to be more careful when examining the images. The researchers proposed mechanism for the effect is that the faces induced doctors to have more empathy for the patient which led them to more carefully analyze the images. Whatever the mechanism ends up being, it really shows the power of simple changes in the task/interface leading to practically relevant differences in performance.
The study’s focus was not on the ailment the scans were meant to evaluate, but rather on incidental findings that often show up on CT images, such as kidney cysts in patients scanned for suspected appendicitis. Doctors reported these extra findings in 81 scans when the photos were included.
Three months later, the doctors unknowingly viewed the same 81 scans, but without patients’ photos. This time, the doctors failed to report 80 percent of the incidental findings.