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11/9/2010
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Minnesota Launching e-Ordering System For Imaging Tests

The non-profit Institute of Clinical Systems Improvement's year-long pilot of e-ordering and clinical decision support tools saved $28 million in high-tech diagnostic imaging tests.

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A non-profit organization representing 60 medical groups, 9,000 physicians and six payers and health plans in Minnesota has launched the nation’s first statewide effort to use electronic ordering and decision support technology to reduce inappropriate diagnostic testing of patients.

The Institute of Clinical Systems Improvement is expanding a pilot program launched about a year ago that uses technology tools from Nuance Communications to help doctors choose the most appropriate High Tech Diagnostic Imaging tests for patients. HTDI tests include MRI, CT and PET scans. The non-profit organization's members range from small doctor practices to large healthcare organizations, such as Mayo Clinic, and health insurers that include the state’s Medicaid programs and five private firms including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.

ICSI is licensing from Nuance RadPort, an e-Ordering system that incorporates evidence-based clinical decision-support tools and Nuance’s RadCube software, which analyzes physician ordering trends and how they match up with patients’ clinical outcomes.

During the yearlong pilot involving more than 2,300 ICSI-member physicians, ICSI saw zero growth in the number of high-tech diagnostic imaging (HTDI) tests ordered. In years prior to using the technology, the number HTDI tests ordered grew about 8% annually, said Cally Vinz, VP of ICSI clinical products and strategic initiatives. That translates to a savings about $28 million for the year.

With the success of the pilot, ICSI is rolling out the Nuance tools for use by all its member doctors and hospitals, which represent between 80% and 90% of all healthcare providers in Minnesota, as well as non-members of ICSI, said Vinz.

This is the country’s first statewide rollout of e-ordering and clinical decision support tools for healthcare providers, she said. ICSI has also advised the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services on demonstration projects that could also utilized the technology for nationwide use for Medicare patients, she said.

Meanwhile, as healthcare providers throughout Minnesota (like doctors and hospitals nationwide) roll out e-medical records and other health IT systems in compliance to the federal government’s HITECH Act meaningful use programs, ICSI will investigate other tech-enabled capabilities to help healthcare providers “capitalize on their investments in health IT by providing clinical decision support at their fingertips,” she said.

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