Cerner Corp. is offering customers an "order vetting" feature that allows radiologists to evaluate the necessity and appropriateness of a radiology study before performing it--rather than afterwards, when it's too late to save the patient from unnecessary time, expense, and radiation exposure.

Having radiologists vet orders also helps engage them more fully in the patient care process, said John Moore, a strategist for Cerner's RadNet product line, which demonstrated the feature at RSNA 2014. It was developed at the request of Cerner customers in Europe, particularly in the U.K. and Ireland, where such vetting is a regulatory requirement.

The vetting feature appears as a series of buttons at the top of the radiologist's RIS work screen. The radiologist can review the justification for the order and any other background information from the patient's record, and then approve the order, put it on hold and request clarification from the referring physician, cancel it, or replace it with a different order. Anything other than "accept" generates a note back to the referring physician.

Moore says that a "fair number" of U.S. clients have expressed interest in turning on the feature, primarily with an eye to reducing unnecessary radiation exposure and making sure the test ordered is the most appropriate one.  It is available in Cerner's current systems.

Coming into general release early next year in Cerner's RIS is a feature that automatically tracks radiation dose with information captured directly from imaging modalities. It was announced earlier this year to address new Joint Commission radiation safety requirements, and is being tested with two Cerner customers now.

The information flows into the patient's EHR, creating a cumulative record of all radiation exposure from procedures the patient has received within the organization. Data also flows into Cerner's business analytics applications to track radiation information by procedure, modality, and individual scanner.

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