Royal College of Radiology Expects Departments to Step Up to New Communication and Fail-safe Alert Notification Standards


Radiologist communicating critical findingsNoting that only 34% of UK radiology departments use an automated alert system and just 17% have the ability to perform enterprise-wide tracking on radiology reports for referring physicians, the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) recently released a report outlining new standards to be implemented across the region.

There are 10 reporting standards recommended in the report:

1. All radiological reports should be produced, read, and acted upon in a timely fashion, best to serve the patients’ needs.

2. It is the responsibility of the radiologist to produce reports as quickly and efficiently as possible, and to flag reports when they feel a fail-safe alert is required

3. It is the responsibility of employing organizations to ensure appropriate reporting and fail-safe systems are in place and to audit regularly.

4. It is the responsibility of employing organizations/radiology departments to ensure that reports can be communicated to other information technology (IT) systems using HL7 standards.

5. It is the responsibility of the requesting doctor and/or their clinical team to read and act upon the report findings and fail-safe alerts as quickly and efficiently as possible.

6. It is the responsibility of employing organizations to provide IT systems whereby, as soon as a verified imaging report has been produced, it is easily available for tracking by clinical teams. All reports should be read and acted upon by the referrer, their team, and/or other relevant clinicians, with a permanent audit trail of who has read the report and who has taken the responsibility for acting upon it.

7. Efficient and effective electronic means of fail-safe alert notification require investment by trusts. Until there are robust systems of tracking and notification within electronic patient record (EPR) systems, manual processes via telephone, email, or fax will continue to be required. Patient safety should remain the most important aspect in this process.

8. Fail-safe systems should be IT-based to reduce error and increase efficiency, but if facilities are not available, alternative manual processes should be in place.

9. If manual processes (for example, telephone calls, emails, faxes, and so on) are required to support the fail-safe process, clerical/administrative staff should be available to support radiologists at all times of the day or night.

10. These standards apply to all investigating units, including National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, independent sector services, and teleradiology reporting providers.

Don’t try this manually

Meeting these new standards is not easy to achieve, especially when Trusts often have only manual systems at their disposal. In contrast, systems such as Conserus Workflow Intelligence™ help providers to meet the standards by automating the communication process with a minimum of impact on radiologist reporting workflow.

With Conserus Workflow Intelligence, provider organizations can automate radiology workflows for:

  • Critical, urgent, unexpected significant findings communications
    • Automate communication of findings directly in PACS or from dictated report
    • Send alerts until the report is acknowledged by the referring physician and the loop is closed (via email, SMS pager, or within the application if in the hospital network)
    • Track communication timelines and outliers for quality improvement
  • Track follow-up recommendations for critical findings
    • Maintain and automate “Tickler file” alert system to help providers ensure nothing is missed or forgotten
    • Automated reminders to streamline communications until the loop is closed

“Communication delays can have very serious consequences for patients,” wrote Dr. Richard FitzGerald, RCR vice president of clinical radiology, in the RCR report’s foreword. “Communication challenges increase inexorably with ever more referrers, types of imaging, working across multiple locations, more pressures on clinicians, faster patient throughput, and 24/7 healthcare. As the failure of these processes can have profound effects on individual patients’ wellbeing, it is essential to develop fail-safe back-up mechanisms to prevent such failures occurring.”

Watch the video to see how easy it is to automate critical, urgent and unexpected finding alerts with Conserus Workflow Intelligence. For information on our solutions in the UK, call 0208 977 5089 or email us to discuss how Conserus Workflow Intelligence can support your organization.

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