Harvard launches evidence library for imaging


A new resource from Harvard Medical School aims to help doctors make more informed decisions on imaging tests.

The school has launched its Library of Evidence, a publicly accessible digital repository of data outlining when to use which test. Initially focused on imaging, plans call for expanding the library to support other evidence-based tools, including lab tests and other medical procedures.

“The Library of Evidence is an important step toward organizing what is known to help advance the goal of evidence-based practice in a concrete way," Ramin Khorasani, Harvard professor of radiology and vice chair of the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in an announcement.

The healthcare industry spends as much as $11.95 billion on unnecessary imaging every year, according to one survey. And it’s not just about cutting unnecessary spending, but also ensuring that patients get the most appropriate tests.

While the HITECH Act requires the use of clinical decision support tools as part of certified electronic health records, a federal statute known as the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 requires ordering providers to consult physician-developed appropriateness criteria when prescribing advanced imaging procedures for Medicare patients. That requirement goes into effect Jan. 1.

In the library, recommendations from professional societies, local best practices and peer-reviewed literature are incorporated to develop scenarios that are then translated into HIT-friendly clinical logic that can be integrated into various clinical information systems.

The free library is available to clinicians worldwide.