Automated Follow-Up Emails Improves Radiologist Engagement and Patient Care

Leesburg, VA, June 12, 2018—An algorithm that allows radiologists to set follow-up emails can improve overall patient care by facilitating radiologist engagement and self-assessment, according to an ahead-of-print article scheduled to be published in the August 2018 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR).

The study authors, led by Elizabeth H. Dibble, of Brown University Rhode Island Hospital, conducted a project that allowed radiologists to flag radiology reports for follow-up at the same time that they dictated their reports. The system generated a HIPAA-compliant email including the radiology report and all applicable follow-up data, including pathology, cytology, and endoscopy reports.

“Directed clinical follow-up is valuable for education,” the article stated. “Radiologists miss opportunities for learning, and thus quality improvement, when they do not obtain clinical follow-up on previously reported cases. Our algorithm provides personalized self-assessment that relates to specific imaging studies chosen by the reading radiologists, both for routine and unusual or perplexing cases. Radiologists can also create contemporary teaching files to educate medical students, residents, and colleagues.”

During one month of the study, more than 91 percent of all embedded reports generated an email containing the requested follow-up information. More than 90 percent of the emails sent included relevant follow-up information. More than 93 percent of pathology reports included with emails were deemed relevant. More than 90 percent of cytology reports, 88 percent of surgical reports and 75 percent of endoscopy reports included with emails were deemed relevant.

“Variations of the algorithm could be developed within and beyond radiology: an emergency department provider could request the discharge summary of a patient with unusual symptoms; a cardiologist could request the surgical report for an echocardiographic lesion,” the article stated.

Founded in 1900, ARRS is the first and oldest radiology society in the United States, and is an international forum for progress in radiology. The Society's mission is to improve health through a community committed to advancing knowledge and skills in radiology. ARRS achieves its mission through an annual scientific and educational meeting, publication of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) and InPractice magazine, topical symposia and webinars, and print and online educational materials. ARRS is located in Leesburg, VA.