Survey: Lack of clinical data affects decision-making

April 30, 2006

Radiologists are failing to receive adequate clinical information about patients that could affect diagnostic decision-making, according to a survey presented Friday at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine meeting.

Radiologists are failing to receive adequate clinical information about patients that could affect diagnostic decision-making, according to a survey presented Friday at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine meeting.

The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, involved radiologists and residents affiliated with six academic medical centers.

Of 139 respondents, 72% reported that they needed more clinical information about patients than they typically received, said Dr. William Boonn, a third-year resident. About 87% noted that access to patient records from referring physicians, consolidated admission and progress notes, laboratory results, and surgical pathologies could result in a modified diagnosis.

About 49% of respondents said time constraints prevented access to such data. But 94% reported that they would use such data if it were easily available.

The University of Pennsyvlania is developing a new digital dashboard as part of a Web portal that will send an automatic query for relevant pathology and reports whenever a patient file is opened in PACS, Boonn said.

The survey also identified shortcomings in follow-up by radiologists. Respondents also noted a need for a way to generate electronic follow-up lists with user-defined trigger tags. Notification by email, pager, or a work list of subsequent pathologies would also be beneficial, the survey found. In addition, respondents noted that reports of patients flagged for follow-up would be useful, as would a method for noting subsequent radiologist review. About 70% of the respondents noted use of handwritten logs to record patient follow-up.