Technology for the Patient's Sake

How do ACR informatics solutions improve care while enhancing workflow?

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In the ear of digital information, radiologists sure have a plethora of it — from EMRs to RIS to PACS. But accessing this information isn't always easy.

In fact, it wasn't so long ago that the decision support was only distributed in PDF form, making them difficult to search and use. "Radiologists shouldn't have to jump through hoops to access this content," says Tessa S. Cook, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the chair of the ACR Commission of Patient- and Family-Centered Care's Informatics Committee. That's why the College has been working behind the scenes to create a variety of solutions.

Workflow Uniterrupted

When it comes to informatics, automation is of the utmost value: it saves time, and it ensures that all patients are receiving the same standard of care. In the JACR®, James A. Brink, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR's Board of Chancellors, writes, "A key tenet...of population health management is the need for automated or semiautomated tools to assist with data integration, analysis, reporting, and communication to improve the health of a population on a broad scale."

However, Cook says it's vital that we can cautiously before creating tools that affect workflow: "What may be a few extra mouse clicks or an additional dialog box, repeated hundreds of times a day, becomes onerous and unnecessary, and does not help our efficiency or our patients," she says.

With this caveat in mind, the College has worked to create informatics solutions that are integrated directly with IT vendors and your workflow. These tools provide access to guidelines and products that can help ensure imaging studies are ordered, read, and communicated in a standardized way. In the changing healthcare atmosphere, creating informatics solutions to support members and their patients is an essential and forward-thinking endeavor.

patient sakes toolsFurthermore, access to this content helps ensure a standard of care. Let's say a patient in Wyoming is in a car accident and is taken to a hospital where the radiologist reading the exam only sees on head trauma per year. ACR Select® helps the referring physician determine what imaging study to order for the patient. Then ACR Assist™ might help classify the head trauma using the Traumatic Brain Injury Reporting and Data System (TBI-RADS®). The radiologist writes a report using ACR Common™ to ensure standard terminology is chosen and that the report is actionable for the patient and referring physician. (See the sidebar for a rundown of each tool.)

In doing so, the tools help meet the goals of Imaging 3.0®, says Cook. "These are important resources that members can use to improve patient care, increase workflow efficiency, and decrease unnecessary imaging."


By Alyssa Martino, freelance writer for the ACR Bulletin

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