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RSNA informatics initiatives aim to improve quality of care

For radiologists seeking to improve quality of care and information exchange, RSNA informatics initiatives are food for thought.

Four RSNA informatics initiatives are encouraging radiologists to consider ways in which their practice can improve quality, increase information exchange, foster learning among peers, and create more efficiency in workflow.

Drivers in the health care industry are leading to more focus on such efforts, according to radiologists who presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s 2011 annual meeting. And radiologists have to be more aware of how their work plays a role in the broader clinical setting. The initiatives hope to accomplish just that, the presenters said.

A standardized lexicon for imaging language, the database of terms explains how image data should be captured, indexed and stored. There are currently more than 30,000 structured, radiology-specific terms in the lexicon, with plans to continue to expand the database and how it is used.

As the language for describing data elements in an imaging system, RadLex is a building block on which information exchange, quality reporting and data analytics can be developed.

Medical Imaging Resource Center (MIRC)
Picture a worldwide electronic library for radiologists, with information that can be used for educational and clinical purposes, and that is what developers hope the MIRC will be.

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A variety of health care organizations, libraries, medical institutions and other sites have created MIRC communities, and this network of networks has led to global sharing. RSNA maintains an open-source MIRC site, as well.

MIRC communities are developing teaching file software as well as a clinical trials processor tool. The applications use standard language and common structure formats to ensure information is presented in medically-meaningful ways. Users can upload and search specific terms, view images, diagnoses, procedures, lessons learned and best practices.

Reporting templates
As more radiology information is integrated into electronic health records and more people are looking at the data contained within, data arrangement and reporting are key to ensuring the information is relevant and useful.

RSNA’s “RadReports” are templates that aim to help radiologists make things clear. The organization began developing the templates, which match to the organization’s RadLex standardized terms, in 2009. By RSNA 2011, there were more than 140 templates available for use.

The reports use HL7 and DICOM imaging standards so radiology information can be integrated seamlessly with EHRs and other systems, without the need to dictate or re-enter data. Using the templates comes in handy for meeting quality metrics, measuring compliance and reducing communication errors, developers say.

IHE Profiles
In conjunction with the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), RSNA representatives are developing radiology-specific technical frameworks that will allow clinicians to exchange imaging information across different vendor platforms and provide standardized information to patients.

Building off other informatics projects such as RadLex and MIRC, these frameworks will help in capturing dose information, allow clinicians to upload images to personal health records, and foster document sharing across platforms.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Jean DerGurahian, Executive Editor.


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