The key to a successful standardized structured reporting program? Get radiologists onboard

Recent advancements in speech recognition software have helped streamline and automate the process of structured radiology reporting, with many products now allowing doctors to quickly and effortlessly populate reports with the most appropriate information using “pick sets” and default text options.

But it’s often people—not technology—that hinder the adoption and utilization of structured reporting standards in radiology departments, said David Larson, MD, and his colleagues from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in an article published in the April issue of the journal Radiology.

“Successful implementation of automatically populated structured reports requires radiologist acceptance of report standardization. The tension between the two desirable principles of systemic consistency and physician autonomy quickly becomes apparent during the implementation of a structured reporting program,” they wrote. “Although the technologic challenges may be difficult in and of themselves, the difficulty of persuading a large group of radiologists to agree on standard reporting practices may be the greater challenge.”

Larson and his team wanted to find out if their facility could successfully implement a radiology department-wide standardized structured reporting program while achieving widespread adoption throughout the department.

They first assembled a structured reporting workgroup to develop a departmental consensus of reporting standards including report organization, written guidelines and checklists to aid in the creation of structured reports. Reports were drafted and edited before being entered into speech recognition software. The doctors conducted quarterly audits of the system to evaluate for consistency and adherence to the standard report format as well as to the normal report. Finally, they surveyed radiologists within the department to ascertain their impressions and opinions of the program.

They found that by the end of the program implementation period, adoption of the system was widespread—100 percent of the audited reports adhered to the standard report guidelines, while 99 percent adhered to the normal report—and feedback from the hospital’s radiologists was generally positive.

“We were successful in developing and implementing a department-wide standardized structured reporting program within our department, and we have achieved a high degree of adoption,” the authors concluded. “We found that by focusing on the organizational challenges and technical aspects, we were able to enjoy the benefits of structured reporting, including improved consistency in reporting, automatic population of examination-specific reports, and more efficient report monitoring for quality assurance and research.”