Study: Search Engine App Boosts EHR Use, Cuts ED Imaging Overuse

June 25, 2014 in News

Search engine technologies can help sift through electronic health records to cut back on the overuse of imaging in emergency departments, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, FierceMedicalImaging reports (Bassett, FierceMedicalImaging, 6/22).

According to the study, imaging and laboratory tests give ED physicians more objective information than a physical examination, leading some doctors to overuse such services.

Details of Study

To find a more efficient method for using imaging data, researchers modified a 2005 semantic search application created at Massachusetts General Hospital called the Queriable Patient Inference Dossier, or QPID. In an ED setting, the tool pulls data from an EHR system and compiles the information for the user.

The QPID application used in the study included 74 query topics relevant to patient screening and management, such as:

  • Antibiotic use;
  • Discharge notes; and
  • History of pregnancy.

The search engine was used to sort through clinical documents of structured and unstructured data for 500 patients (Krishnaraj et al., JACR, June 2014).

Key Findings

Researchers found that the search engine application could complete all 74 queries for a single patient in an average of 15 seconds.

In addition, they found that:

  • Structured data searches had a positive predictive value of 87% and a negative predictive value of 86%; and
  • Unstructured data searches had a positive predictive value of 75% and a negative predictive value of 88% (FierceMedicalImaging, 6/22).

The authors wrote that the findings “demonstrate a high level of accuracy for identification of information deemed salient to ED physicians” (JACR, June 2014).

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