Dec 6, 2023

Benefits of Recreating and Reframing Result Lay Letters.

Set It & Forget It

Have you given any consideration lately to letters used for communicating with examinees and whether they comply with requirements for notifying mammogram results to them? If your breast imaging practice is like most, then probably not.

The setup process usually involves choosing letters based on samples from recommendations by a trusted source or prescribed templates available through computerized applications.

After settling on a set of lay result letters, the tendency is to put them into place and move on since imaging practices face many other pressing demands. It’s a kind of set it, then forget it approach.

And, for the most part, that’s ok—until it isn’t!

Clear as Mud

The messages communicated in your lay result letters are fundamental to your practice. Yet, many facilities are less than willing to offer up the discretionary effort needed to ensure they’re deriving the maximum benefits for both the examinee and the facility on an ongoing basis.

In addition, lay result letters from breast imaging procedures too often become entangled with specialized technical terms. In the world of healthcare professionals, this is natural and appropriate. However, wading through such communications can become overwhelming for the examinee who does not possess medical speak as a second language (MSSL).

The Art of (re)Creating Patient Communications

Revisiting your lay letter library from time to time to validate message clarity, conciseness, and tone can improve the overall quality of communication provided by those you serve.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation’s health protection agency designed to save lives and protect people from threats. To accomplish that mission, the CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats and responds when these arise (2022).

The CDC is also researching the best methods for providers and practices to communicate with patients.

It offers tremendous insight and takeaways for your practice regarding these methods through the Patient Notification Toolkit.

Through the Eyes of Those MSSL Challenged

When sending a lay result letter to examinees detailing a medical procedure performed at any breast imaging practice, there are probably only three common factors everyone can agree upon.

First, most letters provide information about the patient’s testing and obtained results. Then, the letters generally offer directions to guide the patient toward the recommended next steps in their healthcare journey. The last is how the first two get framed, which will vary immensely based on the individual imaging practice!

The contents of lay result letters evolve because many facets of patient and health care influence them. Considerations such as personal preferences by key individuals involved in the practice, norms within the medical community, and limitations or requirements in a computer application’s templates are just a few.

Meanwhile, even the best intentions for a message can be wiped out in short order if the MSSL challenge becomes too great for patients.

Try It, You Might Be Surprised!

Mammologix encourages its breast imaging practice clients to consider doing periodic ‘wellness’ checks on their lay result letters. Taking this discretionary effort to look at them through the eyes of the audience for which they are intended and making necessary adjustments will make sure you maximize the benefits these letters can offer to your facility.

When you do, here are some suggested questions to use to help get the process started:


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). CDC 24/7. CDC.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013, December 6). Section 1: Developing Documents for a 

Patient Notification. CDC.