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The impact of Radiology Turnaround Time for Emergency Departments

Emergency Department (ED) visits are on the rise. Coupled with increased use of diagnostic imaging in ED, Radiologists face increased pressure to reduce interpretation turnaround time. Workflow efficiency is the key to solving this problem without compromising quality and patient care.

Emergency Departments today

Emergency Departments are growing increasingly crowded, with visits in the US growing at 2x the rate of population growth. As the department becomes more crowded, staff may be unable to adhere to proper protocol, and patient care can suffer. A crowded ED contributes to delays in critical treatmentshigher rates of medical errors, and increased mortality rates. With more patients than ever, departments face pressure to deliver care and maintain operations.

Imaging on the rise

The use of advanced imaging has grown exponentially in the ED, with the use of CT growing most significantly. A recent study showed that over 15 years, CT use increased from 38 to 108 per 1000 visits. CT has developed into an important diagnostic tool for the ED due to its speed, availability, and accuracy. Overcrowding can also contribute to the over-utilization of imaging, as it may be used as a substitute for screening. Radiologists face a steadily growing workload with high demands on time.

TAT

With this increased workload, turnaround time (TAT) is of paramount importance. Hospitals rank turnaround time for diagnostic imaging as one of their top priorities. Delays in imaging results are one of the top mentioned causes of ED overcrowding as well as delays in patient discharge or further care. Longer turnaround times can result in poor quality of care for the patient, and also can lead to systemic bottlenecks, resulting in longer patient stays in both the ED and the Hospital.

 What does this mean?

  • Emergency Departments are more crowded than ever, with the use of diagnostic imaging growing at an exponential rate.
  • The demand for advanced imaging within the Emergency Department means that improving TAT while maintaining quality is paramount to patient care.
  • Delays can result in costly hospital stays, other systemic delays, and ultimately poorer quality of care for the patient.

What can be done?

Consider auditing imaging studies that have been ordered from your Emergency Department and assess the studies with critical findings against their expected TAT. Evaluate methods to automate the management of workloads, flows and processes to improve these metrics.

At RadiLens, we’ve built tools to help reduce turnaround times across all study modalities. We’ve seen that through AI-backed worklist management, we can improve the turnaround time for studies with critical findings, particularly those ordered from the Emergency Department.

Reach out to us below to learn how our partner sites have improved efficiencies and TAT at their institutions.

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