New peer learning tool outperforms traditional peer review in radiology department

The quality of peer learning in a radiology department can improve significantly if it uses an electronic peer learning tool (PLT) instead of a traditional score-based peer review (SBPR) system, according to a study published in the American Journal of RoentgenologyThe authors found that a PLT results in more clinically significant feedback in addition to more potential learning opportunities. 

“Radiologists are skeptical that SBPR systems have a real impact on peer learning, and these systems are therefore sometimes perceived as an unnecessary distraction in busy practices,” wrote lead researcher Tony W. Trinh, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

The authors assessed the impact of implementing a PLT between May 1, 2017 to Oct. 31, 2017, at an academic hospital that performs more than 620,000 radiology exams each year. Specifically, they sought to determine and compare the yield of clinically significant feedback and the potential learning opportunities between a radiology PLT and a SBPR system.

The department implemented a PLT that creates alerts that facilitate closed-loop feedback on March 1, 2017. Functions of the PLT included clinical follow-up after a review of prior reports, positive feedback and consultation to solicit second opinions. The SBPR system, on the other hand, gave scores ranging from one to four.  A one was selected if the reviewer agreed with the original interpretation, a two was selected for a minor discrepancy, a three was selected for moderate discrepancy and a four represented a major discrepancy. Potential learning opportunities were defined as cases receiving a clinical follow-up alert from the PLT system and reports that were given a score of 3 or 4 from the SBPR system.

The overall addendum rate, or the number of reports with addenda divided by the number of reports that were reviewed monthly, was 11.2 percent for the PLT system and 0.27 percent for the SBPR system. This indicates a 41-fold difference. The potential learning opportunity rate was 50 percent for PLT and 0.53 percent for SBPR, indicating a 94-fold difference.

“The ability of any tool to efficiently identify learning opportunities is especially important in the context of radiologist workload and physician burnout,” the authors wrote.

Additionally, the team noted, the “transparent nature of feedback with the PLT has the potential to promote teamwork and a culture of quality safety and continuous improvement.”