The timely and reliable delivery of critical test results has become a major priority for radiologists. Without effective systems in place, delayed communication could threaten patient safety and physician efficiency.
Recognizing this, Maimonides Medical Center implemented a critical test result management (CTRM) system four years ago. The system, a Nuance product, has dramatically improved the radiology department’s workflow, said Mark Flyer, MD, CIIP.
“The concern was… getting these results to the right person and making sure patients don’t fall through the cracks,” Flyer said in an interview at this year’s SIIM conference where he presented about their use of this system. “We saw an opportunity to improve on patient care and communication, making sure that critical results are communicated efficiently, quickly and to the right person.”
The facility learned quite a few lessons along the way — one major one being that physicians across the board preferred physician-to-physician communication of results. In a survey conducted by the hospital, physicians noted their concern with the automated system was that lack of direct interaction.
“We in radiology have tried to back track a little and always put out the call first to the doctor,” Flyer said.
But when that direct contact isn’t possible, this system allowed them to effectively relay that information, he noted. The system has improved productivity by making it easier to convey the results. Hospital officials also made tweaks to the system to make it more flexible and tailored to specific physicians’ schedules and preferred contact methods.
Above all, the system has brought physicians a heightened understanding of the need for communication, Flyer said.
“Our job is not done once we issue a report and make a finding,” he said. “Our job is half done. The other half entails making sure that information gets into the hands of the person that has to act on it, so the patient will be the ultimate beneficiary of this.”