Development of a local relative value unit to measure radiologists' computed tomography reporting workload

J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2016 Dec;60(6):714-719. doi: 10.1111/1754-9485.12492. Epub 2016 Jul 11.


Introduction: Demand for CT examinations is continually increasing, with radiologists' reporting times (RRTs) being the major constraint in CT productivity. As CT complexity varies according to the anatomical region, there is a need for methods that normalize radiologist work to address reporting workload.

Methods: All CT orders, from July 2013 to February 2015, from a 850-bed tertiary-care, university-based general hospital in southern Brazil, were studied. Type of examination and RRTs were retrieved from our Radiology Information System/IMPAX. Based on RRTs, after exclusion of spurious results, we calculated local relative value units (L-RVUs) for different examinations. We also compared these results with the US-Medicare/Medicaid RVU (US-RVU).

Results: The query resulted in 42,382 occurrences for 24 tests. Among the tests, 15 had sample size n ≥ 100. The 9 tests with n < 100 were grouped into 4 sets of tests, resulting in the analysis of 17 categories of tests. RRTs for total abdomen CT, thorax CT and central nervous system CT were 17.1 ± 14.6, 14.2 ± 11.1 and 7.0 ± 6.5 minutes, respectively. L-RVUs for the 17 categories of tests were calculated, resulting in values from 1.00 to 4.18. L-RVU and US-RVU displayed no correlation (r = 0.05; P-value = 0.86).

Conclusion: Computed tomography radiologists' reporting workload varies considerably across different tests. Moreover, the lack of significant correlation between US-RVU and L-RVU highlights the need for contextualized methods to locally address radiologists' reporting workload. Thus, the use of L-RVU could aid in planning and managing a CT Unit.

Keywords: productivity; quality indicators; radiology; radiology health operations.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Radiologists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Relative Value Scales
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*