Critical test management gets the attention that it deserves

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | July 06, 2016
From the July 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Hirschorn offers three solutions. The first is connecting the critical finding to the EMR itself. In that way, when the doctor logs in to the EMR, they’ll get the alert and there’ll be a record that they viewed it. But for urgent findings, that method may be too slow. The second method, the semi-automated connection system, uses text, email or fax to let the doctor know there’s a message to pick up. Some doctors, however, complain about the impersonal nature of the robocall.

The third method, and the one that Hirschorn’s facility has found success with, allows radiologists to speak with someone directly by phone. “A radiologist flags the case as either urgent or non-urgent,” Hirschorn explains. “That goes to a worklist that the radiology clerical staff works through. The request goes into a database where it won’t get lost. If the clerk doesn’t move the message along, there will be a bunch of alerts and their boss will know. If they’ve done everything they can, they can escalate it to a hospital administrator. It’s very rare that that happens. It’s an area with enough sunshine, with enough eyes on it, so they get their job done.”

Once the radiologists put their callback requests in, they can check back to see what’s still open. Although there’s a database and computer tracking things, it’s people moving everything along. “In the end, 100 percent of them close with a direct communication between the radiologist and the doctor,” he says. “It’s good because it leads to a real discussion. The downside is that it takes more time to have a conversation, especially on the routine side, but given those two choices, we always err on the side of more communication rather than less. But who wins in the end? The patient — because the right information got to the right person within the right time.”

Next month, we’ll report on part two of this story — how to go about following up on the non-urgent findings.

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