Impact of an electronic alert notification system embedded in radiologists' workflow on closed-loop communication of critical results: a time series analysis.
Test result notification is a longstanding patient safety problem. This time series analysis examined changes in documented communication between the interpreting radiologist and the treating physician for abnormal test results following implementation of an electronic alert notification system. The system allows radiologists to send alerts within their workflow for synchronous communication via pager for critical results and asynchronous communication via email for abnormal but noncritical results with alerts persisting until acknowledged by treating physicians. The authors used an automated text searching algorithm to identify radiology reports with and without documented communication and employed manual record review and adjudication to detect abnormal findings. They found that the electronic alert system led to higher levels of documented communication for abnormal findings without increasing documented communication of normal reports, allaying concerns about alert fatigue. This work demonstrates how systems thinking about provider workflow can result in technology approaches to enhance safety.