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More Risk Screenings Lead to Fewer Imaging Orders

Decision support in Epic helps lower costs and radiation exposure

Reducing radiation? It seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes reducing the use of imaging techniques like CT angiograms is harder than it seems. Physicians often need to order a CT angiogram for patients experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain to rule out pulmonary embolism (PE), a blockage of an artery in the lungs. However, CT angiograms are expensive procedures and they expose patients to radiation so they often aren’t the best option for patients whose symptoms and medical history indicate a low risk.

To reduce unnecessary CT angiograms, University of Maryland Medical System implemented decision support in Epic to ensure that all patients undergo a PE risk assessment before their physicians order a CT angiogram. Within three months of implementing this program, UMMS saw a 10% reduction in CT angiograms ordered, reducing radiation exposure and lowering costs.

A program similar to UMMS’ is available to members of the Epic community. New and existing community members can download the program here and have Epic staff install it as part of Epic’s Services.