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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2010 Jul;195(1):188-93. doi: 10.2214/AJR.09.2946.

Initial observations of electronic medical record usage during CT and MRI interpretation: Frequency of use and impact on workflow.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, 02114, USA.



Electronic medical record (EMR) systems permit integration of contextual nonimaging EMR data into examination interpretation; however, the extra effort required to search and review these nonradiologic data are not well characterized. We assessed the gross frequency and pattern of EMR usage in the interpretation of diagnostic CT and MRI examinations.


We defined nonradiologic EMR data as laboratory data, nonimaging specialty report, clinical note, and administrative data not available on PACS. For abdominal, neuroradiologic, and musculoskeletal CT and MRI, we prospectively recorded the time required for image analysis (including prior imaging studies and their reports), nonradiologic EMR use, and initial report drafting by fellows and staff in randomized sessions. We assessed EMR use as a fraction of work activity and according to technique, subspecialty, inpatient status, and radiologist experience.


We observed 372 CT and MRI interpretations by 33 radiologists. For CT, radiologists used the EMR in 34% of abdominal, 57% of neuroradiologic, and 38% of musculoskeletal interpretations. For MRI, EMR was used in 73% of abdominal, 56% of neuroradiologic, and 33% of musculoskeletal interpretations. For CT, EMR usage comprised 18%, 14%, and 18% of diagnostic effort (image analysis plus EMR use) for abdominal, neuroradiologic, and musculoskeletal interpretations, respectively; for MRI, EMR usage comprised 21%, 16%, and 15% of diagnostic effort for abdominal, neuroradiologic, and musculoskeletal interpretations, respectively. Frequency of EMR use was significantly greater for neuroradiology CT and abdominal MRI (p < 0.05, Fisher's test). EMR usage was not consistently related to inpatient status for CT or radiologist experience.


For CT and MRI interpretation, EMR usage is frequent and comprises a significant fraction of diagnostic effort.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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