It is About "Time": Academic Neuroradiologist Time Distribution for Interpreting Brain MRIs

Acad Radiol. 2018 Dec;25(12):1521-1525. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2018.04.014.


Rationale and objectives: Efficiency is central to current radiology practice. Knowledge of report generation timing is essential for workload optimization and departmental staffing decisions. Yet little research evaluates the distribution of activities performed by neuroradiologists in daily work.

Materials and methods: This observational study tracked radiologists interpreting 358 brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in an academic practice over 9 months. We measured the total duration from study opening to report signing and times for five activities performed during this period: image viewing, report transcription, obtaining clinical data, education, and other. Attendings, fellows, and residents reading studies independently and attendings over-reading trainee-previewed studies were observed.

Results: Ten attendings, 12 fellows, and 13 residents spent a mean of 11, 18, and 16 minutes reading brain MRIs independently. Mean duration was significantly different comparing attendings in all assignments to fellows (18.36 ± 1.05 minutes, p = 0.0001) or residents (16.31 ± 1.11 minutes, p = 0.001) but not between fellows/residents. Mean duration among attendings reading independently versus over-reading trainees was not statistically different. Attendings spent the same time on image viewing (4.07-5.33 minutes) with or without trainees. Attending transcription time was shortest when over-reading trainees (2.24 minutes) and longest when reading independently (4.20 minutes), demonstrating benefit of the draft report. Fellows and Residents spent longer on image viewing (7.14 minutes and 8.06 minutes, respectively) and transcription (7.02 minutes and 5.40 minutes, respectively) than attendings reading independently.

Conclusion: Neuroradiologist time/activity distributions for reading brain MRI studies were measured, setting the stage to establish a benchmark for future reference and suggesting opportunities for greater efficiency. Furthermore, report production time can be decreased when a draft report is available.

Keywords: Brain MR; Report production time; Work flow.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Efficiency
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Medical Records*
  • Neuroimaging
  • Radiologists*
  • Radiology / education
  • Radiology / organization & administration
  • Time Factors
  • Time and Motion Studies