Study Says Importing Outside Images into PACS Decreases Repeat Tests

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A new study published this month in the American Journal of Roentgenology adds to the ongoing debate over whether the availability of prior imaging exams makes a difference in utilization.

The study found that when physicians had access to outside images through PACS, just 11% of patients underwent repeat imaging tests compared to 72% when images were not available to physicians. Researchers looked at 267 patients that had undergone CT or MRI imaging of the abdomen within four months.

The study offers a contrast to the recent controversy over a report in the journal Health Affairs that says electronic health records may lead to more tests rather than less. Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, refuted the article in a blog post this week.

Part of Mostashari’s argument claimed the study did not look at EHRs but rather electronic viewing of images likely through PACS. This latest study in AJR throws a new wrinkle into the debate stating that PACS do indeed decrease the number of repeat tests.

Read the study abstract.