CPOE, trend spotting integral to managing radiation

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Massachusetts General Hospital has reduced patients' radiation exposure by more than 95 percent for some exams through the use of information technology, according to Dr. James Thrall, the hospital's chief radiologist. Speaking at a recent imaging conference in New York, Thrall outlined several areas where IT could help manage radiation dose, according to an article at AuntMinne.com

Specifically, Thrall highlighted the hospital's password-protected protocol database as a major tool for ensuring "protocol integrity." Essentially, there are several categories and subcategories of protocols that, without IT backup, would be extremely difficult to remember, according to Thrall. 

For example, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center faced a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles, and GE Healthcare faced a similar suit in 2009, after more than 200 patients experienced radiation overexposure from CT exams. The imaging, Thrall pointed out, included a standard head CT protocol, rather than one managed via IT. 

"IT applications represent a major opportunity to ensure the proper use of radiation and the documentation of that use," Thrall said, according to AuntMinne.com. "I've come to the opinion that concern about radiation dose exposure risk on the part of the public, referring physicians, regulators, and legislators represents the No. 1 nonfiscal challenge to the future of radiology." 

Computerized physician order entry, meanwhile, helped Massachusetts General not only become more efficient in the procedures it performs, but it also to reduce those procedure overall. According to Thrall, radiology procedures at MGH dropped by 25 percent from 2004 to 2007. 

What's more, IT also has helped MGH's radiology department to track behavioral trends of the doctors imaging procedures. As a result, doctors who tended to rely on such procedures more than others reduced the number of tests ordered. 

To learn more about how IT can improve radiology:
- read this AuntMinnie.com article

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