Hospitals utilize radiology transcription services to ensure that radiology reports get transcribed efficiently, quickly and cost-effectively. It ensures that physicians can focus on rendering care, while the reports get transcribed and recorded efficiently within the lowest possible turnaround time.
Reliable medical transcription services can provide transcription of ultrasound, x-ray, CT scans, MRIs, PETs, etc. They can also import and integrate transcripts into your EHR.
Reducing TATs of Radiology Reports
Turnaround time (TAT) is everything in radiology. Hospitals and imaging centers have always been striving to reduce their TAT, though that elusive target has not always been reached. However, things could improve now with tools that are available for significantly reducing the time taken for a radiologist to study the report and return the diagnosis. But it shouldn’t be too fast to compromise on the accuracy and quality of the study.
Turnaround times vary based on the kind of test performed, with CT scans to identify brain bleeds and chest X-rays to discover pneumonia taking around 15 minutes and others taking longer. Some argue that turnaround times are taking precedence over report quality, which isn’t obviously desirable.
Improvements Noted in TAT
The 2013 Imaging Performance Partnership TAT, a survey involving 86 hospitals, children’s hospitals, academic medical centers and imaging centers, revealed that most hospital and practice heads rank quick turnaround time of radiology reports as one of their greatest priorities – providing a rating of 5.7/6 and 5.5/6 respectively.
This emphasis on turnaround time has caused changes, according to the survey results. A 54.5% drop in non-advanced imaging reading times was reported by the survey in multiple care settings. This improvement is the result of the thrust given by healthcare facilities on TAT reduction. Moreover, for radiologist group leaders it is important that they show the skills of their radiologists in reading and reporting to ensure they prove themselves valuable to hospital partners.
But just how quickly can a radiology report be read without compromising on the facts and details in it? That varies between providers though many studies, as quoted by Diagnostic Imaging, have claimed the timeframe to be one hour for generally all areas of medicine. These studies also say that private practices are more advantageous in reaching this goal since they only focus on reading reports. With more technological aids and smoothened workflow, studies show that the turnaround times can be further brought down to half an hour.
TAT Reduction Tough for Academic Medical Centers
Academic medical centers, though, have teaching tasks to radiology residents to consider while designing TAT standards for their institution. That makes the TATs there longer than those in private practices. But to improve, academicians need to innovate in reducing turnaround times without compromising on the residents’ quality of studies.
This innovation was applied by the University of Cincinnati department heads. They limited the emergency department (ED) cases for residents to participate in. Department heads use iPads to help providers to promptly sign-off on cases which residents have dictated. On each of the shifts, a single attending physician was made in charge of signing off on the ED cases. A TAT of one hour has been proven by the university to not affect the quality of the report. Reducing the time further, though, could begin to show negative effects, or at least such worries remain.
Improved Workflow Could Help
Another manner to lower the TAT has been thought to be evaluating and streamlining the workflow of the department or practice. According to the radiology director of the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, the following steps could help in improving the workflow:
- Conceiving standard hanging protocols to deal with various reading situations
- Identifying paper-based functions which would cause delays
- Collecting data to prove the need for new hardware or software investment
- Ensuring system upgrades to support greater workloads through improved viewing and storage
- Upgrading software for 3D reconstruction for improved image quality
- Training physicians to efficiently share and organize images through the advanced systems
- Separating responsibilities of PACS and RIS administrations, which can help save time
With tools having autopopulate features and templates, practices using speech and voice recognition software can theoretically experience a TAT drop by up to 90%, according to industry research. This could be coupled with an 85% drop in costs in connection with report transcription.
These steps could help reduce TAT for radiology report reading, while reliable radiology transcription services could ensure that accurate transcripts of these reports are returned on time. All of this would ultimately improve patient care and streamline the functioning of the practice, hospital or imaging center.