RSNA: Critical results tool gives big assist to QA process improvements

Existing communication tools can be leveraged to improve quality assurance (QA) programs without upending workflow, according to an RSNA poster presentation from staff at the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) in Aurora.

Thomas Suby-Long, MD, explained that UCH was able to modify the facility’s critical test results communication tool, creating an electronic method of reporting QA issues to replace a more manual, paper-based method. Previously, issues were written down and left in a folder to be picked up and addressed later. “People felt good about filling out a piece of paper, but the loop wasn’t being closed,” said Suby-Long, noting that on many occasions a QA issue would remain in the folder, unaddressed, for extended periods of time.

After convening a multidisciplinary team of physicians, technologists and IT specialists, UCH determined the QA process for radiography, CT and MRI could be improved using communications tools already integrated with UCH’s voice recognition software and PACS. Suby-Long said the hospital worked with its critical results reporting tool vendor to add additional user tools that allowed for dictated QA messages to be sent via email to the appropriate QA specialists.

“We thought, ‘If we can use that to communicate critical results to referring physicians, why can’t we use it to communicate QA issues to the QA tech?’” said Suby-Long. The goal was to cut down on the paperwork without interrupting workflow.

Suby-Long and colleagues set a baseline goal of having less than 1 percent image quality issues, and they reported that over the initial 12-month period following the QA process adjustments, the recorded percentage was 0.8 percent. There was a slight downward trend in QA issues overall.

QA specialists and radiologists also were subjectively more satisfied with the new process, according to Suby-Long.

The poster presentation is course number LL-QSE3041-SUA and can be located in the Lakeside Learning Center during the RSNA annual meeting.