Let the data do the work

The term data-driven decision making has become ubiquitous. Ubiquitous it may be, but the adjectives essential and mission-critical also spring to mind.

Two of the studies in this month’s Women’s Imaging portal drive home the point. One of the well-voiced beefs with screening mammography is its relatively high false-positive rate. Of course, multiple factors feed into this rate.

One contributor to mammography’s problematic performance that can be identified and corrected, according to Patricia A. Carney, PhD, of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and colleagues is physician under-performance.  

Carney et al created performance thresholds for physicians interpreting diagnostic mammography studies and estimated the clinical impact of nudging under performers into the acceptable range. False-positives would be reduced by 1,067 per 100,000 and 634 per 100,000 for workups as a result of screening and breast lumps, respectively. Not a bad day’s work for data.

When Namita L. Tundia, doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues evaluated the relationship between the level of EHR sophistication and 11 preventive healthcare services for women, they found that providers with EHRs tended to order more screening mammograms than those without.

In this case, basic data may suffice. Providers with minimal EHRs ordered screening mammograms at a rate nearly on par with those possessing fully functional systems. Nevertheless, the researchers suggested future studies drill down into the data to pinpoint which advanced EHR functions are more important for women’s health. Stay tuned, and let us know how your practice is leveraging data in women’s imaging.

Lisa Fratt, editor