Real-time electronic dashboard technology improves workflow

A real-time electronic dashboard, meant to provide a visual display of updated information regarding scheduled and in-progress exams, improves clinical workflow in pediatric radiology, according to a new study published in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

Researchers in the department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston created a real-time electronic dashboard to track and display pediatric radiology examinations. The purpose of the project was to evaluate if it could improve clinical workflow and efficiency.

“Despite the transition to digital imaging and voice recognition software for dictation within the last two decades that has improved workflow efficiency for radiologists, clinical responsibilities continue to increase because of expanded roles in areas beyond interpreting studies as well as the increased number of imaging studies ordered for patient care,” wrote lead author Randheer Shailam, MD, and colleagues.

The real-time electronic dashboard can keep radiologists up to date and is easily interpretable by a radiologist who is on call. Additionally, the dashboard can assist in anticipation of workflow problems and highlight where a radiologist’s services may be needed. It can also minimize communication from other personnel and patients that can cause delays in interpretation of exams.

Researchers set up the dashboard to mimic daily activities and purposefully included MRI and CT modalities at the top, because they are most likely to require monitoring. The dashboard included the exam status, patient name, age, medical record number, patient status, time the exam was scheduled, patient arrival time, exam start time, exam code, resource and protocol status. Exams were color coded for easy recognition. The dashboard was updated every 90 seconds. When the exams were completed in the radiology information system, they were deleted.

The researchers said implementing a real-time electronic dashboard led to a reduction in time between exams, scheduling and protocol and also decreased the amount of phone calls to the reading room for discussions, which in turn improved workflow. The interpreters were also able to anticipate when they would need to perform or monitor exams, which also improved efficiency.

“The numerous metrics that are recorded in the radiology information system, including patient status, radiology resource, and examination scheduled and start times, can be leveraged by radiologists to improve clinical workflow and efficiency using a real-time updated visual display of scheduled and in-progress examinations,” the authors wrote. “Improvements in workflow include decreasing time intervals for radiologist protocoling, monitoring and scanning examinations, as well as decreased patient wait and examination times and improved resource utilization. These in turn are expected to improve diagnostic accuracy and quality of patient care. We believe that the use of real-time electronic dashboard technology has great potential for enhancing the practice of radiology and that it should see increased application in the near future.”