Impact of a structured referral algorithm on the ability to monitor adherence to appropriate use criteria for transthoracic echocardiography

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Background: Many free-form-text referral requisitions for transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) provide insufficient information to adequately evaluate their adherence to Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC). We developed a structured referral requisition algorithm based on requisition deficiencies identified retrospectively in a derivation cohort of 1303 TTE referrals and evaluated the performance of the algorithm in a consecutive series of cardiology outpatient referrals. Methods: The validation cohort comprised 286 consecutive TTE outpatient cardiology referrals over a 2-week period. The relevant AUC indication was identified from information extracted from the free-form-text requisition. The structured referral algorithm was applied prospectively to the same cohort using information from the free-form-text requisition, electronic medical record and ordering clinicians. Referrals were classified as appropriate, uncertain, non-adherent (inappropriate) or unclassifiable based on the American College of Cardiology Foundation 2011 AUC. Results: Only 28.7 % of free-form-text requisitions provided adequate information to identify the relevant AUC indication, as compared to 94.4 % of referrals using the structured referral algorithm (p < 0.001). The structured algorithm improved identification in the AUC categories of general evaluation of cardiac structure/function (100 % vs. 43.0 %, p < 0.001); valvular function (100 % vs. 23.0 %, p < 0.001); hypertension, heart failure or cardiomyopathy (100 % vs. 20.3 %, p < 0.001); and adult congenital heart disease (100 % vs. 0 %, p < 0.001). By applying the algorithm, the number of identifiable non-adherent studies increased from 2.6 to 10.4 % (p <0.001). Conclusions: Use of a structured TTE referral algorithm, as opposed to a free-form-text requisition, allowed the vast majority of referrals to be monitored for AUC adherence and facilitated the identification of potentially inappropriate referrals.




Promislow, S., Abunassar, J. G., Banihashemi, B., Chow, B. J., Dwivedi, G., Maftoon, K., & Burwash, I. G. (2016). Impact of a structured referral algorithm on the ability to monitor adherence to appropriate use criteria for transthoracic echocardiography. Cardiovascular Ultrasound, 14(1).

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