Inching toward interoperability

Emory Healthcare has developed a semiautomated method of data collection to facilitate participation in the General Radiology Improvement Database (GRID) and detailed their experience in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The demand for the collection of standardized information has led to the creation of the National Radiology Data Registry by the American College of Radiology. The National Data Registry is comprised of quality databases, one of which is GRID. In particular, the database compiles information indicative of performance, including turnaround time, patient wait time, patient satisfaction, and other measures demonstrative of areas for quality improvement.

Use of databases such as GRID enables radiologists nationwide to not only make more objective and evidence-based decisions in clinical practice, but to compare their quality metrics with other facilities across the country. “The compendium of registries serves to enhance the specialty of radiology and patient care by providing a national perspective on how diagnostic radiology is practiced in the United States,” wrote senior author Sheri Chernetsky Tejedor, MD, SFHM, of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues.

Despite the benefits that accompany adoption of databases like GRID, challenges associated with benchmarking and data entry continue to interfere with voluntary participation. Tejedor and colleagues aimed to create a semiatuomated method of data collection and transfer for Emory Healthcare in order to ease participation in GRID. The researchers conducted a workflow analysis of the radiology quality and safety data collection process at Emory to determine the best place for implementation of a solution for data extraction. 

Emory Healthcare desired a solution that would not require additional revenue, significant IT resources, new software, or largely interrupt workflow. The authors chose to focus on the radiology metric of turnaround time. By creating and running a new Structured Query Language query, Tejedor et al were able to extract and transform only elements of data that were needed for GRID. The resulting solution is called the, "Automated Radiology Data and Information Transfer." 

“The proposed solution is shown in and is designed so that a flat file can be transferred to GRID in the future via secure file transfer protocol,” wrote the authors. “Because GRID collects data on a monthly basis, monthly batch push on Emory's side could be performed for data transfer. It is important to note that on the GRID receiving end, there are data-cleaning features that reject inconsistent data, such as biopsy reports that are nondiagnostic.”

Challenges associated with the solution included the time and effort it took to learn the infrastructure of data flow process, workflow process, and stakeholders.

However, the model demonstrated by EMORy lays the ground work for future metrics to be used for submission to GRID, wrote the authors. “Lessons learned will be helpful for the American College of Radiology, which may have inquiries from other health care facilities related to data submission and as electronic health record vendors begin to change their views on interoperability,” they concluded.