Radiology reports often contain follow-up imaging recommendations, but failure to comply with them in a timely manner can lead to delayed treatment, poor patient outcomes, complications, and legal liability. Using a dataset containing 2,972,164 exams for over 7 years, in this study we explored the association between recommendation specificity on follow-up rates. Our results suggest that explicitly mentioning the follow-up interval as part of a follow-up imaging recommendation has a significant impact on adherence making these recommendations 3 times more likely (95% CI: 2.95 – 3.05) to be followed-up, while explicit mentioning of the follow-up modality did not have a significant impact. Our findings can be incorporated into routine dictation macros so that the follow-up duration is explicitly mentioned whenever clinically applicable, and/or used as the basis for a quality improvement project focussed on improving adherence to follow-up imaging recommendations.
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