November 19, 2014
As we prepare to mark the yearly vigil known as “RSNA”, during which we revisit all aspects of radiology, a recurring question remains, “Is teleradiology right for radiology?”
The question seems simple enough, yet some authors and speakers continue to make a virtual (pun intended) living rehashing the issues and non-issues of when and how to use teleradiology or a teleradiology company. In these discussions, teleradiology typically gets painted with the same old brush. The problem is, the reasons given for denouncing teleradiology haven’t dealt with the complexities of the radiology landscape or taken into account the diversity of the options now available.
At one time, teleradiology options were limited. That is not the case today. As with many other segments of the economy there is a resurgence of individual entrepreneurship. New providers are entering the market that are wholly radiologist-owned and have an interest in partnering with on-site groups. These new groups work directly with their on-site partners to provide high quality services and interpretations. This synergetic relationship improves patient care, improves clinician satisfaction, utilization, and decreases cost.
In the past, the teleradiology provider was a lesser partner at best or a low quality, low cost option for overnight coverage at worst. These new teleradiology companies are pushing for a complete reevaluation of how teleradiology and on-site radiologists can work together. Being run by radiologists and coming with a unique vision, these new providers are earning a seat at the patient care table with their on-site colleagues. This dynamic, transparent partnership demonstrates bilateral support between the teleradiologist and on-site radiologist to both hospital administration and clinicians. This improves radiologist visibility and demonstrates a motivated and concerned approach to patient care, 24/7.