ASE: Online tool tracks orders for echoes

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A pilot study presented this week at the 21st annual American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) scientific sessions unveiled an online, web-based tool to track appropriate ordering of heart ultrasound exams.

R. Parker Ward, MD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues developed and sought to pilot an online tool to track appropriateness of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) by assessing indications for outpatient TTE studies performed in a university hospital echo laboratory at the point-of-service using an online appropriate use criteria (AUC) for TTE tool.

“Appropriately using heart ultrasound exams can help significantly reduce unnecessary healthcare spending,” said Ward. “Many payors are pushing to have every patient pre-authorized by the insurance company prior to allowing the heart ultrasound study be performed; which is a costly administrative burden to healthcare providers and can disrupt or delay care for the patient.”

The researchers found that 94 percent of the time, the new electronic tool reached the same conclusion as detailed patient chart reviews. The mean tool study entry time was 55 seconds (range 25-87 seconds), of which a mean 28 seconds was for completion of an initial patient identifier screen, and a mean of 27 seconds was used for indication/appropriateness determination.

Researchers concluded that the use of this new electronic tool allows rapid and accurate application of the appropriate use criteria at the point of service. Further study of this tool at the point of order may provide a viable alternative to third party pre-certification procedures, the authors stated.

“Such a tool could currently be implemented in echo laboratories to track appropriateness in accordance with recently announced and soon to be implemented accreditation requirements,” the authors noted.