Improving Imaging Patient Outcomes and Quality of Care


Discover how customizing radiology workflows can improve quality of care and imaging patient outcomes in critical areas like the ED and Intensive Care Units.

Improving quality of care—and by extension, patient outcomes—is a top priority for health system CIOs. According to a recent Change Healthcare survey, CIOs are willing to invest in intelligent workflow solutions if they move the needle on these value-based care metrics.

Tracking quality and patient outcome improvements has been particularly challenging for radiologists, who traditionally have worked directly with physicians, not patients. According to a National Institutes of Health study, radiologists need to become an integral part of direct patient care, with imaging processes reorganized around patient needs.

Improving ED flow and managing imaging performed on ICU patients can have a significant positive impact on patient care. Let’s examine how improved collaboration between radiology and other departments can help boost quality and improve outcomes.

Imaging Workflows that Improve ED Wait Times and Patient Outcomes

Hospital EDs have wrestled with wait times for years. Long wait times are associated with poorer outcomes and higher costs. One study suggests that ED patients with pneumonia were more likely to be admitted to the hospital if they had waited a long time before receiving an antibiotic. In another study, patients who were admitted to the hospital from the ED experienced longer inpatient stays and higher inpatient mortality rates when they were admitted during periods of high ED crowding.

When radiologists can efficiently prioritize ED images and quickly read them with confidence, they can help minimize ED wait times. However, ED physicians often lack an effective way to prioritize their imaging requests. Overuse of the STAT designation is now a key contributor slowing down ED radiology workflows, according to research presented at RSNA 2017. Prioritization is confusing for radiologists when every request is STAT.

Radiology departments can contribute to faster patient flow through the ED by improving the way imaging requests are prioritized.

Change Healthcare helped one customer move beyond the STAT logjam by building a workflow prioritization model. Each ED study was assessed and assigned a priority ranking based on a detailed set of criteria. The solution automatically assigned each study, escalated it dynamically, and tracked it through to completion.

This workflow change led to a 35% increase in the customer’s average ED turnaround time. Reduced wait times can translate into faster diagnoses and treatment, which can have a positive impact on quality of care and patient outcomes.

Radiology Workflows that Support Improved ICU Patient Outcomes

Faster imaging results also improve the quality of care and patient outcomes in the ICU.

Patients in the ICU are categorized as hospital inpatients. Most radiology workflows do not distinguish ICU studies from other patient studies that are typically less clinically urgent. Change Healthcare worked with one customer to apply the granular prioritization model to segregate ICU radiology studies.

The radiology practice already maintained excellent average turnaround times for its ICU studies. Adding automatic workflow prioritization dramatically accelerated these times, helping radiologists read outlier studies 75 minutes faster. The strategy was also applied to Labor and Delivery patient studies, which also realized improved turnaround times for imaging studies.

Workflows for Faster Results and Improved Imaging Patient Outcomes

As the number of complex imaging study requests from the ED is on the rise, collaboration between ED and radiology teams is more essential than ever. Creating automated prioritization processes for imaging workflows can help radiologists minimize wait times and quickly deliver results to referring physicians.

Shorter wait times can improve quality of care, patient outcomes, and patient satisfaction — all of which can directly impact revenue.

Change Healthcare’s CIO survey generated a wealth of insights. Download the whitepaper, How Intelligent Workflow can Alleviate CIO’s Top 4 Concerns, for a comprehensive picture on how workflows can improve quality of care and imaging patient outcomes.

Related Insights

View all Insights