Analytics-driven worklists speed-up musculoskeletal MRI read times

As medical imaging utilization continues to grow, radiology workloads follow suit. But analytics-driven worklists may be able to help musculoskeletal practices achieve faster MRI read times, according to a Feb. 26 study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology—potentially reducing burnout.

Researchers from New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center in New York compared the MRI interpretation times of three musculoskeletal fellowship-trained radiologists before, and after using an individualized worklist over a seven day period.

Calculating the difference in mean interpretation times, the authors found the total interpretation time across the specialists decreased by a mean of 29.5 minutes per day during the weeklong trial period. One radiologist interpreted wrist studies 10 minutes slower than baseline and another reader interpreted cervical spine studies 9 minutes quicker.

“Our results show that worklists organized by relative individual interpretation times can decrease the overall group interpretation time in a multireader setting,” wrote first author Tony T. Wong, MD, with Presbyterian/Columbia, and colleagues. “This concept may be useful for improving the overall efficiency of a radiology group, particularly with the challenge of an increasing workload.”

Importantly, the authors noted, the new worklists allowed individual’s to maintain their preferred reading times prior to implementation, but resulted in faster times as an overall group.

For this particular worklist structure, if one study was read slower by a single radiologist it climbed higher in the queue for the quicker radiologist to interpret. This may allow individuals to read fewer studies that take longer to interpret thereby reducing fatigue, but not all specialists may want to read such studies which could also impact personal job satisfaction, the authors wrote.

Wong and colleagues also pointed out their study was designed to measure speed and not quality. Despite being told to interpret studies normally, faster turnaround times do not equate to better or lesser quality readings.

“Although this instruction theoretically should ensure that the quality of any individual report would not be altered, we did not specifically assess for changes in quality, which would be important to study before implementing sustained use of such worklists to ensure that quality is not being sacrificed,” the authors concluded.