Clinician Communication Still a Sticking Point for Test Results


Radiologist at WorkCommunication seems to get easier every day — we can phone, text, email, Facebook message, and even Snapchat our friends and (in some cases) co-workers. But communicating with other clinicians about radiology results remains problematic.

The American College of Radiology Actionable Reporting Group separates findings into three categories: those requiring communication within minutes (Category 1), hours (Category 2), and days (Category 3). Categories 1 and 2 pose an immediate risk to the patient, requiring rapid and direct communication by the radiologist. Ironically, although Category 3 findings are significantly less urgent, their frequency means they are just as disruptive to radiology workflow as the first two.

In a recent paper[i], “Important Nonurgent Imaging Findings: Use of a Hybrid Digital and Administrative Support Tool for Facilitating Clinician Communication,” a team from NYU Langone Medical Center’s radiology department examines this issue and writes, “The frequency of findings that are important yet non-urgent (Category 3), as well as the time-intensive nature of locating and contacting the referring physicians for such findings, creates a challenge in daily radiology practice.”

Dr. Brian Gale, director of radiology informatics at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, agrees. “How to communicate is still a big challenge,” Gale tells ACR Bulletin. Clinicians can be in many places: seeing a patient, traveling between patients, or on a day off, he points out, adding that it can be difficult to know whether or not a patient has changed departments since being admitted. Then, once you determine the correct person to contact, it’s hard to know whether you should phone them, page them, email them, or use an automated alert system, he says.

Although the NYU paper focuses on facilitating communication of Category 3 findings, it stands to reason that a robust radiology imaging workflow solution would provide the means to report and track communication success on actionable findings in any category.

Indeed, it’s clear that what radiologists need to simplify and accelerate communication is a workflow tool that helps:

  1. Direct studies to the most qualified radiologist available (or who will be available within the timeframe required)
  2. Radiologists prioritize all their tasks, including — but not limited to — communication with other clinicians
  3. Ensure complete security while being accessible to approved users from any device, anywhere.

When it comes to communicating and tracking actionable findings and critical test results, providers can incorporate this process directly into the clinicians’ workflow without causing disruptions or delays with the help of Conserus™ Workflow Intelligence. Conserus™ Workflow Intelligence provides a flexible rules engine that connects with multiple RIS, PACS, EMRs and other hospital applications to help consolidate interpretation and quality tasks and help remove silos of information, supporting improved radiology workflow efficiency. And, each organization can define its own workflow and business rules. To learn more, visit our web site.

[i] Evan Johnson,, Joseph Sanger, Andrew B. Rosenkrantz, Department of Radiology, NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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