Building an IT toolkit for effective critical results communication management

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SEATTLE—If an organization’s only goal is to comply with the Joint Commission on national patient safety goals, it will only create a marginally successful program, according to Paul Nagy, PhD, director, quality and informatics research, associate professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Nagy discussed how IT solutions can potentially help healthcare organizations meet the safety goal of closing the communication loop for critical test results. “Your goal should be to lower the barriers to radiology and customers and we are going to discuss how IT can be an opportunity to do this,” he said.

With customer relations management (CRM), understanding the needs and expectations of ordering physicians is a whole new frontier for radiology. “Even though this is not a new idea, radiology is having a hard time maintaining its role in the industry–of understanding its value prop in the patient communication marketplace,” he said.

What has IT got to do with CRM? “We are part of the cause,” he added. “IT has sterilized the relation between the clinical and the radiology.”

The breakdown is a causative factor in 80 percent of radiology malpractice suits—something that was rare pre-PACS, he noted.

It is imperative to encourage consultation between radiologists and technologists to ensure value, provide radiologists who consult, lower the barriers and try to minimize interruptions.

Can IT solve the communication problem? “We should be able to—we were born ready to tackle this challenge and we need to start addressing why we have not solved it yet,” he said.

Some of the building blocks that would enable IT to address the challenge of communicating critical test results would be to have open technical standards and content management system, for example, a centralized physician database to know how to get a hold of physicians.

The IT standards that are needed for this challenge are mostly there, he said, and IT has the opportunity to help solve some CRM problems.

“You need to provide leadership and ownership and get cooperation from the ordering physicians,” he added. “We have a unique opportunity to do this right and it should not be a radiology [only] initiative.”