Improving the Appropriate Use of Transthoracic Echocardiography: The Echo WISELY Trial

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Aug 29;70(9):1135-1144. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.06.065.


Background: Appropriate use criteria (AUC) have defined transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) indications for which there is a clear lack of benefit as rarely appropriate (rA).

Objectives: This study sought to investigate the impact of an AUC-based educational intervention on outpatient TTE ordering by cardiologists and primary care providers.

Methods: The authors conducted a prospective, investigator-blinded, multicenter, randomized controlled trial of an AUC-based educational intervention aimed at reducing rA outpatient TTEs. The study was conducted at 8 hospitals across 2 countries. The authors randomized cardiologists and primary care providers to receive either intervention or control (no intervention). The primary outcome measure was the proportion of rA TTEs.

Results: One hundred and ninety-six physicians were randomized, and 179 were included in the analysis. From December 2014 to April 2016, the authors assessed 14,697 TTEs for appropriateness, of which 99% were classifiable using the 2011 AUC. The mean proportion of rA TTEs was significantly lower in the intervention versus the control group (8.8% vs. 10.1%; odds ratio [OR]: 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.57 to 0.99; p = 0.039). In physicians who ordered, on average, at least 1 TTE per month, there was a significantly lower proportion of rA TTEs in the intervention versus the control group (8.6% vs. 11.1%; OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.57 to 0.99; p = 0.047). There was no difference in the TTE ordering volume between the intervention and control groups (mean 77.7 ± 89.3 vs. 85.4 ± 111.4; p = 0.83).

Conclusions: An educational intervention reduced the number of rA TTEs ordered by attending physicians in a variety of ambulatory care environments. This may prove to be an effective strategy to improve the use of imaging. (A Multi-Centered Feedback and Education Intervention Designed to Reduce Inappropriate Transthoracic Echocardiograms [Echo WISELY]; NCT02038101).

Keywords: appropriate use criteria; cardiologists; general practitioners; quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cardiology Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Echocardiography / standards*
  • Echocardiography / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method

Associated data