What is teleradiology, and how does a 21st-century clinic or hospital benefit from this?
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Teleradiology is one of the emerging medical technologies of the 21st century. Telehealth, in general, is becoming a booming industry. Doctors and patients can interact with each other via telecommunication technologies.
In this article, the focus is on understanding teleradiology, its importance, and its benefits for hospitals and clinics.
Teleradiology – An Introduction
Teleradiology is a sub-domain of telehealth. Teleradiology is the practice of transmitting radiological images like X-Ray, Ultrasound, MRI, and CTs to a radiologist who is not physically present in the health care center where images are generated.
The objective of teleradiology is sharing the radiological images with radiologists and physicians for the sake of consultation and diagnosis.
Teleradiology is done through various technologies, including the internet, telephone, LAN, WAN, and cloud-based technology as well.
Teleradiology process is a three-pronged system, which includes:
· Image sending station
· A transmission network, which can be WAN, LAN, Wireless, or Broadband connection.
· Image receiving station
At the image sending station, the radiological image is recorded using specialized software designed to meet the need of teleradiology. Then, the image is sent through a transmission network, which is then received at the receiving station. A teleradiology system should comply with the standards set by the regulatory authority, so that patient privacy is not harmed.
Applications of Teleradiology in modern-day hospitals and clinics
Several hospitals and clinics throughout the world are using teleradiology to its full potential. Benefits aside, teleradiology provides a variety of uses. Let's look into how does a clinic or hospital benefits from teleradiology.
· Urgent cares
Teleradiology helps greatly when it comes to dealing with patients at urgent care facilities. Generally, urgent care facilities use x-ray machines for finding out any broken bones or related ailments. In case emergency cases are brought to the urgent care facility in odd hours, and a radiologist is not available, a teleradiology system can help to understand the x-ray findings.
This is especially useful when urgent care facilities have to deal with cases that require radiologist subspecialists. In the case of MRI, Pediatric, and Neuroimaging, the services of expert radiologist subspecialists are essential. Teleradiology enables radiologists to provide their specialized services without being physically available at the location.
· Radiologist services to far off places
One of the foremost objectives of telemedicine and teleradiology is serving the patients living in far off areas. Such places lack the facility of expert radiologists. In case, the basic health care centers have essential machinery like an x-ray machine, ultrasound machine, and CT scan machine but expert radiologists are not available.
In such cases, teleradiology is extremely helpful. Clinics or hospitals can perform an x-ray, ultrasound, and other radiological imaging tests and send them to expert radiologists using teleradiology.
The teleradiologist will help them know the accurate readings and findings of the imaging. Using this information, the physician can diagnose and prescribe in a better way.
· Teleradiology for the sake of second opinion or expert opinion
Sometime if the case is critical and complex, the in-house radiologist may wish to connect with another radiologist with a certain subspecialty. Hospitals and clinics can use teleradiology to help their in-house radiologist consult with a teleradiologist for the sake of expert or second opinion. This will help them establish a grounded finding from an x-ray or ultrasound report.
·Teleradiology can help hospitals and imaging centers in case of their in-house radiologist absence
At times, hospitals and clinics can experience a large volume of imaging than regular. In such a situation, it becomes difficult for a single radiologist to handle things at a normal pace. Using teleradiology, hospitals and clinics can use the services of a teleradiologist for fast readings.
Teleradiology enables hospitals to hire the services of a teleradiologist, which helps them avoid keeping their in-house radiologists bound to the work even after his shift is over.
Benefits of teleradiology to hospitals and clinics
Teleradiology is beneficial for both patients and hospitals. It supplies several benefits during the assessment and procedures. Some great benefits include the following:
Hiring an in-house radiologist requires you to pay a huge paycheck every month while teleradiologists work on a case by case basis. In case a hospital or imaging center doesn't perform a large volume of x-ray and ultrasound throughout the month, having multiple in-house radiologists is pointless when teleradiology is available.
In case of a lower volume of x-ray and ultrasound, the ultimate cost of a teleradiologist's services will be a fraction of what it requires to have multiple in-house radiologists. Teleradiology brings down the cost of radiologist's services.
· Better efficiency
In case doctors need the services of radiologists for accurate reporting of a complex case, then teleradiology can help the doctor to connect with a specialist teleradiologist. It improves efficiency and helps to read the reports precisely.
· Better access
Large cities have sufficient radiologists for hospitals and clinics to hire. While hospitals and clinics in small areas lack access to expert radiologists, a hospital or clinic can hire the services of a teleradiologist. Teleradiology enables such hospitals and imaging centers to acquire a simple and efficient solution to meet their needs.
Teleradiology has revolutionized the radiology world and made it easier for community hospitals, clinics, and small-town healthcare facilities to access affordable radiologists. Teleradiology helps to connect with affordable and specialist radiologists in subdomains of radiology. This adds significantly to the overall patient care in far off places or small towns.
Today, teleradiology technology is very efficient and mature. The systems are quick, affordable, and secure than ever. The cost to setup teleradiology systems in hospitals and clinics is lower than what it used to be in its earlier days.
The maintenance cost is also reasonable, and the process is smooth as well. Given the long-term benefits of teleradiology, investing in a teleradiology system for your clinic or hospital will be one of the best decisions of your life.