Advanced PACS technology now equips radiologists to read exams anywhere, anytime.
This freedom breaks down the traditional paradigm in which local hospitals worked with local radiology groups. Now hospitals can contract with radiology and teleradiology groups located anywhere in the country, and these radiologists can work for hospitals across the nation. Radiologist productivity is greatly improved and radiology resources are available whenever and wherever they are needed.
Ultimately, modern PACS technology can help enhance the delivery of care through improved decision support, stronger communication tools, enhanced collaboration, and access to non-imaging patient information.
But how does the freedom created by remote reading change the way hospitals, radiology groups and teleradiology groups work together? Does this new playing field create winners and losers?
We can expect universal image availability to drive higher quality standards through increased competition. Radiology groups must do more than read images to earn the ability to serve local hospitals and physicians. They will need to do what many are already doing: 1) Carefully evaluating the imaging study in the context of patient’s clinical information derived from multiple sources including referring physician notes, HIS, EHR, lab data, and outside prior imaging exams; 2) developing close working relationships with clinicians that ultimately can enable better patient care; and 3) integrating themselves with the medical organizations and communities that they serve.
Competition among teleradiology and radiology groups will result in the strongest groups rising to the top and the weakest groups losing ground. So yes, there will be winners and losers. But I expect the outcome to be higher quality imaging consultation services, improved reporting times and more relevant care. Ultimately physicians and their patients will be better served. And that goal greatly outweighs the turf battles on the horizon.
So, what do you think? Is radiology becoming commoditized? And how does this affect your hospital or your radiology group?
Dr. Roger Eng: President, Golden Gate Radiology Medical Group; Chief of Radiology, Chinese Hospital; Chief Medical Officer, Kona Healthcare