Radiology department staff members often have to spend a lot of time switching between programs to look up patient information and reference materials, said presenter Dr. Jason Balkman of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
"I observed our staff and residents spending up to one minute looking up patient information in the EMR, which is separate from our PACS," Balkman said. "They also feel frustrated by these inefficiencies, to the extent that many have given up searching for more clinical information in the EMR."
Previous research developed a script to page referring clinicians from their PACS program by automating a series of mouse clicks. Building upon this, the group decided to apply the same technology to electronic medical chart lookups from PACS, Balkman said.
With a single keystroke, the script finds the patient medical record number (MRN) on the PACS viewer, opens the EMR program, plugs in the MRN, and opens the patient chart for the radiologist in less than four seconds. It also prevents the electronic chart from closing due to inactivity, as reopening the EMR system can take up to 30 seconds.
"This not only decreases fatigue, it improves access to crucial clinical information and puts the radiologist back within the inner circle of real-time patient information," Balkman said. "I've personally found this tool indispensable while on call."
The poster will also discuss two similar tools for integrating different health information systems.
While radiologists can bear the brunt of poorly integrated information systems, they are in a great position to implement solutions, he said.
"Low-cost -- and many free -- solutions are available without the need for large IT software overhauls," he said. "Solutions such as [these] potentially benefit every work hour of every radiologist who uses them and, therefore, pay off exponentially compared to the small upfront effort required for implementation."