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IOM Demands Improved Diagnosis, Radiology Workflow Systems Answer the Call

We have made enormous progress in moving from volume-based care to value-based care and huge advances in curing disease. Of course, there’s always more to do. For example, the latest Institute of Medicine report provides an avenue to improve quality of care even further.

“Improving Diagnosis in Health Care,” says the majority of US patients will receive a late or wrong diagnosis in their lifetimes. It also says diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10% of patient deaths. The report concludes that as the delivery of healthcare and the diagnostic process continue to increase in complexity, the error rate may worsen.

As problematic as that sounds, there is very good news here. The answer to the problem lies in technology that already exists — workflow systems that facilitate teamwork, emphasize diagnostic competencies, and facilitate performance feedback, all while helping to improve radiologist productivity.

In a recent opinion piece, Dr. Frank Seidelmann, who has more than 30 years of experience in radiology, said today’s medical complexities mean that it’s impossible for one radiologist to be an expert in all parts of the body with all available imaging tools. “Because of this, we’ve now unfortunately hit a point where the term ‘general radiologist’ can mean a diagnostic inaccuracy if the radiologist is reading a study in a subspecialty area,” he says.

Dr. Seidelmann imagines a network of general and subspecialty radiologists with a system that intelligently routes patient information and images to the radiologist subspecialist best equipped to interpret them. Then he points out that since the entire radiology workflow is already digital, the tools are in place to “make this forward-thinking a reality.”

Not only do today’s sophisticated workflow tools enable this type of routing, they can help:

  • Assign each procedure to the most qualified, available physician
  • Create a unified enterprise work-list across multiple healthcare entities with multiple PACS from different vendors
  • Give radiologists a simple, unified work-list showing all interpretation, quality, and communication tasks to be performed, with prioritization information
  • Drive workflow to meet SLAs, turnaround-time thresholds, procedure types, clinical information, eligibility, and patient location
  • Help radiologists optimize productivity by incorporating notifications via SMS and/or email into the workflow solution
  • Integrate with EHRs to provide a context-sensitive view of relevant clinical data, tailoring each display by case and highlighting data such as lab results, pathology reports, medications, and physician notes.

In other words, using today’s leading-edge radiology workflow systems, diagnostics in particular, and healthcare in general, can take several large steps in the right direction.

To learn more about McKesson’s radiology workflow solutions, please visit our web site.

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