Part II of this series explored how radiology can impact cost effectiveness at healthcare facilities. In this final post, we will look at delivering quality care in our new healthcare environment.
New regulations, controlled costs for facilities and patients, and technological innovations have given healthcare providers the ability to more easily provide patients a high-quality level of care. Particularly in radiology, we see significant advances in the products and software that support the capture and delivery of images.
Patients expect that the care they receive will be of the highest quality. To contribute to this, radiologists should think about the following:
- Streamlining Communication
- Making sure that getting to images and results is easy for technologists, doctors and patients. One way to do this is leverage new technology that provides a platform from which this is possible. Doctor and patient portals are becoming more and more popular – and standard functionality – across many types of healthcare facilities.
- Playing a Role in Patient Communication
- Instead of seeing radiology outside of the healthcare continuum, facilities and radiology professionals can work to see how imaging has a direct impact on the quality of patient care. This understanding must be facility-wide so that radiologists have the support they need to become part of the continuum and to be educated on how to communicate with patients.
Technological advances such as reporting platforms that offer native voice recognition, RIS or PACS integration, and advanced reporting, support internal and patient communication. Having a strong, integrated reporting system contributes to reducing delays in processing and produces better, more contextual reporting.
One area in which streamlining communication and patient communication is having a greater impact is in the area of telemedicine.
Telemedicine, and to be more specific, teleradiology, has not entirely come to fruition because of laws and payment systems that are more encouraging for face-to-face doctor-patient visits. In the U.S., doctors are licensed by states, but the rules follow where the patients live, so doctors must also be registered in their patients’ states too. In the European Union, doctors are licensed by country and have the free reign to practice throughout the union, no matter where their patient lives.
While the U.S. may seem more conservative with telemedicine laws, telemedicine practiced within a state has its advantages. It can be difficult for those living in rural areas to have access to quality care. With a broadband connection, telemedicine can provide rural populations with high-quality care that many in more populous areas have access to. This is certainly the case in China, where it is spending billions on healthcare reform with an emphasis on teleradiology.
What do you think? Are you seeing radiology become an integrated, vital component of quality healthcare? Are there other trends to keep an eye on?