RADAR: A Closed-Loop Quality Improvement Initiative Leveraging A Safety Net Model for Incidental Pulmonary Nodule Management

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 May;47(5):275-281. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2020.12.006. Epub 2020 Dec 26.


Background: This study was conducted to assess whether patients with incidental pulmonary nodules (IPNs) received timely follow-up care after implementation of a quality improvement (QI) initiative between radiologists and primary care providers (PCPs).

Methods: A QI study was conducted at an academic medical center for IPNs identified on chest imaging ordered by PCPs, performed between February 1, 2017, and March 31, 2019, and with at least one-year follow-up. A QI initiative, RADAR (Radiology Result Alert and Development of Automated Resolution), was implemented on March 1, 2018, consisting of (1) a novel, electronic communication tool enabling radiologist-generated alerts with time frame and modality for IPN follow-up recommendations, and (2) a safety net team for centralized care coordination to ensure that communication loops were closed. A preintervention IPN cohort was generated through a natural language processing (NLP) algorithm for radiology reports paired with manual chart review. A postintervention IPN cohort was identified using alerts captured in RADAR. The primary outcome was percentage of IPN follow-up alerts resolved on time (defined as receiving follow-up care within the recommended time frame), comparing pre- and postintervention IPN cohorts. Secondary outcomes included agreement between PCPs and radiologists on the recommended follow-up care plan.

Results: A total of 218 IPN alerts were assessed following exclusions: 110 preintervention and 108 postintervention. IPN timely follow-up improved from 64.5% (71/110) to 84.3% (91/108) (p = 0.001). Postintervention, there was 87.0% (94/108) agreement between PCPs and radiologists on the recommended follow-up plan.

Conclusion: The RADAR QI initiative was associated with increased timely IPN follow-up. This safety net model may be scaled to other radiology findings and clinical care settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Radiology*