Data Mining and Analytics in Radiology
Published on the May 23, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website
By Whitney L.J. Howell
Patient safety, satisfaction, and the quality of care you provide are no longer merely questions of how well you complete the appropriate services. More and more, group practices and hospital departments are turning to advanced analytics tools for data to streamline their work flow and improve efficiency. The list of tools is growing, as is the number of companies providing them, but according to industry experts, there are a few advanced analytics systems that should be your technology bedrock.
“It’s absolutely essential to have information at your fingertips if you’re going to provide the safest, most efficient care,” said Eliot Siegel, MD, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine professor and associate vice chairman for informatics at the University of Maryland. “Versions of analytics have existed in radiology systems, but they have given limited information. Now, we’re moving from monthly reports to having dashboards and virtually immediate feedback.”
However, it can be a challenge to implement advanced analytics effectively. The technology is changing so rapidly that it can be difficult to stay abreast of the latest developments, and convincing your colleagues of the tools’ benefits can be problematic. It’s important to remember, said David Hirschorn, MD, radiology informatics director at the Staten Island University Hospital, that advanced analytics offer something you don’t already have — data mining and evaluation that your PACS or RIS systems simply can’t do. Here are two major areas where advanced analytics are making a difference — and a glimpse of what’s to come.
Equipment utilization: Having the latest or most up-to-date MRI or CT equipment is critical for your practice. But to get the most out of the machines, you must know to what degree you’re using them, said Hirschorn, also a radiology informatics researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“You must ask yourself if you have too much or too little equipment to meet the demands of your department,” he said. “Is one machine being used a lot? Are patients waiting a long time? Either way, you could be losing business, so you have to find a way to quantify how your equipment is utilized to know if you’re making effective use of time.”
Implementing advanced analytics means you won’t have to wait until year’s end to determine your practice’s efficiency. For example, PowerScribe 360 Analytics from Nuance promises to help practices and departments analyze variance in radiologist reports, monitor ordering patterns, and use a variety of parameters to determine turnaround time.
“Why not bring analytics into real time. As you collect the data in real time, you can use it in real time,” Hirschorn said. “As radiology becomes more and more data driven, we need dashboards that might not provide day-to-day analysis, but week-to-week or month-to-month to identify our weak points.”
Personnel utilization: In addition to maximizing your equipment, it’s also helpful to monitor how efficiently you’re using your time, as well as that of your staff. For example, knowing the details of your neuroradiologists’ schedules can help determine if they have time to read less complicated scans, as well as brain MRIs.
“Analytics can tell you how busy your neuroradiologists or other subspecialists are. Are they really full or do they have time in between cases?” Hirschorn said. “Could you make utilization of that time?”
Merging or Blending Services: Deciding to merge facilities or share radiologists between locations can be a daunting task. Analytics can help institutions decide whether joining together would be viable or even financially advantageous. Software, such as advanced analytics solutions from Montage Healthcare Solutions, can provide data about how radiologists at various sites spend their time and how locations utilize their equipment, these tools allow decision-makers to have more well-informed conversations. Without this data, Hirschorn said, resolutions to merge resources are based on guesswork.
To read the remainder of the article at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/informatics-pacs/content/article/113619/2075240
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