EMR access can be critical to radiology decision-making

Access to electronic medical record data can be critical to radiology decision making in emergency departments, new research published this month in Health Affairs shows.

For the study, three neuroradiologists looked at 2,000 head CT scans ordered by physicians at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. They analyzed the medical information gathered and entered by emergency physicians and compared it to information in the EMR accessed by the interpreting radiologist.

They found that in 6.1 percent of the cases, at least two of the neuroradiologists agreed that the extra information found in the EMR "very likely" influenced the interpretation of the exams and, by extension, the way in which the patients were treated. This meant that in those cases, if the radiologists didn't have access to the EMR data, they could have recommended further inappropriate imaging, failed to recommend further appropriate imaging, or given an incorrect diagnosis.

In 16 percent of the cases, at least two of the neurologists agreed that the data from the EMR "possibly" affected interpretation and treatment. Furthermore, the radiologists who had the most experience reported that in 13.4 percent of the cases, lack of EMR access would have negatively impacted patient management.

"In my mind, it would be below the standard of care to practice radiology and to interpret imaging studies without access to the EHR," study coauthor John Ulmer, a professor of radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, told DOTmed News.

The study's results are another example of the value that EMR implementation can bring to healthcare, Ulmer said.

Last month, the American College of Radiology submitted comments on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's proposed rule containing voluntary electronic health record technology certification criteria for 2015. In it's comments, ACR said it supports ONC's proposal to separate the order types in previous computerized physician order entry (CPOE) certification criteria into three distinct criteria encompassing medications, lab-tests and radiology/imaging.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract from Health Affairs
- read the article in DOTmed News


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