Friday, June 14, 2024

The Evolving Radiology Landscape and Emergence of Teleradiology Services

We are well past the age when doctors had to wait for the radiologists report to initiate a treatment.  Innovation in technology has blurred the lines between onsite and offsite radiologists to the extent that radiology departments in hospitals are making way for teleradiology vendors. The ability to send images from one location to another, and get them interpreted and viewed remotely has given healthcare treatment the immediacy and numerous other benefits that it has been long craving for.

Originating partly due to the imbalance between the demand and availability of diagnostic services in the 1990s, teleradiology services first started operated under cover of darkness. Much like the Tooth Fairy spiriting away molars from beneath pillows, these services operated as supplement to hard-pressed radiology departments and provided late-night preliminary reports to on-site radiologists.

But today this service has turned the tide around. Presently, rather than operating as a supplement, teleradiology services have started hogging the lime-light during the day and have become the go-to destination for quick, specialty-specific final reads.

So what are those specific reasons that led to the drastic rise of this service? Here is a brief overview of this-

The Benefits

The biggest and the most prominent benefits of teleradiology service is the cost reduction. Hiring a full time radiologist who works from 9 to 5, five days a week, can cost somewhere in the range of $300,000 a year. However, a teleradiology group that provides continuous readings, can charge as little as $8 per study.

Quality of read is another area where teleradiology service outperforms conventional radiology departments. This is because, unlike typical radiology department, which has limited resources, teleradiology service providers will have tens and hundreds of domain specific radiologists under their disposal, which naturally increase the quality of read.

The Availability of Second Opinions

More than 80% of the practices consider the availability of second opinions as a major driver for opting teleradiology service. This is because obtaining a second opinion greatly reducing the probability of medical errors and saving lives. It keeps healthcare costs escalations at bay by aiding in arrival at correct diagnosis faster, streamlining treatments and preventing unnecessary medical procedures. What’s more it also gives patients the peace of mind they need and deserve.

Models of Usage

While many have started making teleradiology a regular part of workflow balancing process; a large majority is utilizing it for off-hour coverage, and providing emergency and sub-specialty specific readings.

Some of the other common usage of teleradiology services with regards to single facilities and enterprises with multiple facilities includes-

  • For in-house distribution of imaging studies
  • For efficient workload sharing between the different locations of the same organization

The Future

The future looks bring and sunny for Teleradiology services. With more advances in technology, it will grow to become a more powerful enabler that will result in significant improvements in healthcare delivery. Hence why not start investing in this service and stay ahead of the cure in the industry.