Ever wonder how things have changed in this new-fangled age of flashing lights and integrated circuits?
In the NEJM, Dr. Robert Steinbrook takes a look at how Teleradiology has changed the field of Radiology:
The rapid expansion of teleradiology will benefit other physicians and their patients if it improves the quality, availability, and timeliness of interpretations. More specialty radiologists may be available to read more specialty studies. Many hospitals, including small and rural facilities, may be able to improve the quality of their radiology services. The flexibility with regard to hours and lifestyle may make radiology more attractive as a profession. Although its role within the United States appears to be limited, international teleradiology can link countries that have radiologists with those that lack them.
The changes may also have disadvantages, however. Physicians may be less likely to know the radiologists who read their patients’ studies, and there may be more opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstandings. A teleradiologist will often have no information about the patient beyond that contained in the study requisition. Despite experience to the contrary, concerns about the quality and timeliness of readings may persist. Some small facilities might seek to save money by replacing their radiologists with a teleradiology company. Those who are exclusively teleradiologists will have no contact with patients. Radiologists at a remote site cannot perform vascular and other interventional procedures, ultrasonography, or fluoroscopic studies. They will also have less contact with other doctors, or even with other radiologists, particularly if they read from home rather than from a central facility. If the volume of work becomes too great, there may be insufficient time to give each study the necessary attention, and the potential for errors may increase. The response to such challenges will shape the course of events within the United States and internationally.
It’s only a matter of time before Wal-Mart starts reading images for us.
Read the article here (requires subscription!)