Order Entry Protocols Are an Amenable Target for Workflow Automation

J Am Coll Radiol. 2018 Jun;15(6):854-858. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2018.02.003. Epub 2018 Apr 22.


Purpose: Order entry protocol selection of advanced imaging studies is labor-intensive, can disrupt workflow, and may displace staff from more valuable tasks. The aim of this study was to explore and compare the behaviors of radiologic technologists and radiologists when determining protocol to identify opportunities for workflow automation.

Methods: A data set of over 273,000 cross-sectional examination orders from four hospitals within our health system was created. From this data set, we isolated the 12 most frequently requested examinations, which represent almost 50% of the entirety of advanced imaging volume. Intergroup comparisons were made between behavior of radiologic technologists and radiologists or residents when determining protocol. Frequencies of changes were calculated. Common parameters of changed examinations were identified.

Results: The overall change rate for both radiologists and residents (4%) is very low and comparable to the overall change rate of radiologic technologists (1%). The change rates for the 12 most ordered examinations were calculated and compared individually. Most examinations that underwent change involved a patient with a low estimated glomerular filtration rate, a patient with a contrast allergy, or a provider ordering a general examination but in fact wanting an organ-specific protocol or an angiographic study.

Conclusion: Order entry protocol selection of the most frequently ordered advanced imaging examinations was rarely a value-added activity because these examinations are rarely changed. Changes follow predictable patterns that make order entry protocol selection of most radiology orders for advanced imaging amenable to workflow automation.

Keywords: Workflow automation; data analysis; determining protocol; value-added activity; workflow.

MeSH terms

  • Automation*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Humans
  • Medical Order Entry Systems / standards*
  • Radiology Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Radiology Information Systems / standards*
  • Technology, Radiologic
  • Workflow*