The Technology to Order the Right Imaging Test the First Time

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , September 22, 2009

"Everybody in MN—health plans and providers—who are not always on same side—are vehement advocates of the clinical decision support, because we have seen it work," says Quam.

"Imaging is the most expensive element of care in this country," says Cowsill. So will e-Ordering help rein in those costs?

In a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance earlier this year, Barry A. Bershow, MD, medical director of quality & informatics for Minneapolis, MN-based Fairview Health Services claimed that it can.

"A number of provider groups were searching for an effective way to reduce costs and get good information to physicians ordering high tech diagnostic imaging. Calling an RBM vendor had proven to be time consuming, costly, interrupted work flow, and didn't help the patient and physician do shared decision making," Bershow wrote. "Working collaboratively with employers and health plans, as well as having our state's Department of Health and Human Services at the table, we developed a system for providing clinical decision support at the point of ordering by the primary-care physician."

Bershow noted that system had two major effects: "First, we saved 303 hours of labor per month at our system. The second was the right test was ordered the first time, while the patient was still in the exam room."

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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