Auto-filling ultrasound measurements improves radiology report quality

Implementing a software solution that auto-fills ultrasound measurements improves radiology report quality and helps radiologists focus on their interpretations, according to new research published by Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

“Reliable transmission of ultrasound measurements into radiology reports is fraught with potential sources of error,” wrote Meir H. Scheinfeld, MD, PhD, department of radiology at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, and colleagues. “In a conventional workflow, measurements are either written by hand on worksheets and/or dictated from worksheets or the images themselves into the radiology report. Valuable physician time is spent dictating, checking and editing these values and this process is error-prone.”

The researchers worked to implement a software solution that auto-fills ultrasound measurements throughout their institution. Structured reporting templates—which had already been in place—were updated so that certain fields would auto-fill when the technologist acquired the measurement data.

“In total, we created and mapped 128 fields for 39 exam templates,” the authors wrote. “Following implementation, all ultrasound technologists were trained to perform studies using the institutional measurement fields, which is a requirement for measurement transmission.”

Overall, technologist utilization was 86-96 percent and radiologist utilization was 92-93 percent. Radiology resident utilization was 95-96 percent. The team estimated that this new solution would save more than $800,000 over the next five years.

“Auto-filling of ultrasound measurements streamlines ultrasound reporting, and allows the radiologist to focus on the imaging findings rather than the required documentation of numerical data,” the authors wrote.

Scheinfeld et al. noted that accuracy was made a top priority throughout the entire process.  

“Training the technologists and radiologists to be vigilant for errors was an important component of the implementation,” the authors wrote. “Technical failure and human error are inevitable and these would need to be identified and corrected as they would occur. Therefore, despite the system working in the vast majority of cases, measurements would still need to be reviewed.”

Researchers shared numerous lessons they learned during implementation. For example, they wrote that there was a clear need for designated leadership from all departments from the very beginning. Also, “assistance from both the ultrasound equipment and the software vendor is necessary to handle technical problems.”