Tag: teleradiology

21 Nov 2016
RIS

What do you look for in a RIS/PACS for a Tele-radiology application

Let’s face it. Today a PACS is a commodity …has been for quite a while.
Most PACS and for that matter RIS on the market can do most everything………..at least that is what the brochures claim!

For a Tele-radiology application, these are some of the important requirements

  • What are the workflow features it supports?
  •  How easy is it for a Radiologist to set up a practice for himself or herself?
  •  How many reports can the Radiologist dictate in a day?
  •  What is the cost of ownership?

Let’s take the last one first!

Today, reducing reimbursements from insurance companies, increasing competition across the globe, and the need to provide quality care in spite of all the above – are forcing owners of imaging centers to question the cost of ownership.

This is where the cloud-based solution brings value to the table. With a cloud-based solution, the vendor is responsible for the high end redundant servers housed in class III or similar data center, disaster management solutions, archiving studies and reports for 7 years or more. This solution provides a very low or practically nil cost of ownership.

The Radiologist or the owner can focus on building the business, signing up new hospitals, and bringing the bacon home! The cloud based solution gives him a lot more flexibility and freedom to go after new prospects even if they are not in the same state or even the same country.

The number of reports a Radiologist can generate in a day translates to profits. The system must be simple to use and the reporting engine and viewer must allow him to dictate as quickly as possible. Interface with a Voice recognition system, easy content (text and audio) exchange between the Radiologist and transcriptionist, peer review with ABR codes, QA, real time collaboration between different stakeholders are some of the features to look for in a system. The Radiologist must be the last link in the chain and studies/images must reach him only when they are complete in all respects, thereby saving his valuable time. Some systems have the reconciliation feature that handles this part of the assignment. The system must support all DICOM modalities which can be added any time later with ease and also support non DICOM for use with legacy modalities.

The system must be simple to use and more importantly easy to install. The Radiologist must be able to start his business or add a new hospital within hours thereby generating confidence in his business. If the hospital or clinic that is sending studies provides a VPN -then the issue of encrypting, security, and safe transmission are taken care of and there is no need for any hardware purchase by the Radiologist. If not, a simple PC that can house the DICOM router software and route the studies fast and efficiently to the central server, is sufficient. The system must also be universal such that it should not need any proprietary hardware for viewing and should be able to log in from any browser. Viewing and distributing images on a mobile device is becoming ubiquitous today and helps the Radiologist to take instant decisions from an airport or a coffee shop!

Last but not least the workflow features are very important. It is indeed an irony that when you mention workflow, most people have the “deer caught in the headlights look”. The workflow is the most important factor which contributes to the productivity and thereby to the bottom line of the enterprise. Some systems provide a “soup to nuts” solution for the workflow from capture to archive while some provide certain modules. Here it is important to get a standard off-the-shelf software that can be customized -rather than develop one from scratch and make it proprietary, finding it difficult to change in the future. The workflow defines many conditions that improve overall efficiency.

For example:

  • Assignment of studies to a Radiologist depending upon various conditions
  • Workflow parameters like TAT, number of reads, work load, QA score for Radiologist
  • Auto assignment or through manual intervention by an Administrator
  • Monitoring TAT (Turn Around Time) and reassigning studies if TAT is not met
  • Collaboration between various stakeholders through work-list
  • Customizable work-list which enables the user to see what they want to see and hide the extraneous information.
  • Monitoring QA, reconciliation, Peer review to help improve the quality of care to the patient
  • Integration with existing front end or back end solutions using HL7 or web links
  • Accessing PRIORS and showing patient demographics to the Radiologist while reporting to enable faster and more accurate reporting
  • Enabling the patient to get hold of the report and studies through a secure patient portal.
  • Use of mobile devices and maybe a QR code to make it easy for the patient to receive the information.

These are just some of the important workflow features to look for. It is best to ask the vendor what they provide – to help you improve the productivity of the Tele-radiology center. An important characteristic the software should provide is the flexibility to customize the features to get the best bang for your buck.

Many vendors who are in this business should be getting constant feedback from their valued users and keep improving their product.

Make sure they provide 24x7x365 support otherwise all the above is not as attractive as it sounds!

19 Nov 2015
Benefits of Teleradiology

Benefits of Teleradiology

Telemedicine is the application of information technology and telecommunications networks for the purpose of medical diagnosis and therapy from remote locations. A host of recent technology innovations have made it possible for telemedicine to expand its reach across every medical speciality– its usage in radiology is called “Teleradiology.”

Radiology incorporates the diverse methods used in medical science to capture images of the internal body structure and function (eg. x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds), to assist in the process of medical diagnosis or treatment.
Teleradiology is the capability to acquire these medical images in one location and facilitate their transmission over a range so that they can be viewed and interpreted for diagnostic or consultative purposes by a radiologist.

This practice is becoming widely adopted by hospitals, urgent care clinics, and diagnostic imaging centers. The factor responsible for its rapidly growing implementation is due to the fact that it addresses the inadequacy of appropriately skilled personnel to provide radiological analysis and the lack of practitioners of this specialty.

The process of teleradiology, in essence, is based on a fundamental triad; an image sending station, a transmission network, and a image retrieval station that should have a high-quality display screen. Additional more recent technology innovations include the incorporation of cloud for redundancy and cost reduction, mobile technologies for greater access and sophisticated teleradiology workflow that enhances radiologist productivity, provide performance metrics and track quality. .

Teleradiology improves client care by enabling radiologists to supply their expertise without necessarily being at the same location as the patient. This is especially essential when radiologist subspecialists (e.g. MRI radiologists, pediatric radiologists, neuro-radiologists) are required, because these specialists are few in number and typically located in metropolitan cities. Teleradiology therefore enhances the quality of radiology reporting by bringing the images of a patient in a small town to the most specialized radiologist who is best qualified to interpret the particular radiologic scan..

On the other hand, smaller sized healthcare facilities in rural areas might use only one radiologist or none at all. In such situations, it is virtually impossible for the radiologist to be available 24 x7 x 365. Having the support of a teleradiology reporting service can both improve the quality of life of the solo radiologist as well as improve the quality of care that might be potentially diminished by radiologist overwork..

Teleradiology can be a means through which physicians can collaborate when they are not in direct contact. For example an emergency doctor at a rural urgent care center can gain obtain a radiology consultation from a specialist urban radiologist and discuss the case telephonically while simultaneously viewing his or her patient’s images. (e.g. they are in remote places). This can be extremely valuable from the perspective of enhancing patient care and improving outcomes.

Using the services of outsourcing companies or radiology groups to supply and maintain the needed radiology coverage, smaller medical facilities are able to make better usage of their own on-site specialists and enable them to maintain their regular working hours.

This can likewise be economical for the medical facility as the outsourcing institution need only spend based on utilization, and is spared the significant fixed cost of having a radiologist on site at a small institution where they may not be fully utilized . The arrangement of these expert services to manage inpatients at small hospitals without experts on site has been revealed to be a reliable way of providing high quality care that would otherwise be unavailable.

In summary, the benefits of teleradiology are related to affording access to specialist radiologist expertise where or when none exists, to the appropriate utilization of radiologist time and energy, and to the overall enhancement of patient care, while at the same time reducing healthcare costs!

The technologies today are mature and evolved, and the outsourced model wherein images are routed to a teleradiology reporting service is an established and tested one which affords significant value, especially to small rural and community hospitals. Startup costs, as well as running costs, are reasonable and affordable and the process is smooth and streamlined.

Sounds like a pretty compelling value proposition? Try it and find out for yourself!!.

11 Sep 2015
Teleradiology software for practice

How To Pick The Best Teleradiology Solution For Your Practice?

With a plethora of vendors offering a RIS/PACS solution and claiming to do everything under the sun, it is not surprising that most buyers are confused and overwhelmed. Even for a discerning user, it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff and arrive at a short list of vendors who meet both the technical and the financial criteria. If you are managing a radiology imaging facility, then you are probably walking a tightrope between investing in technology for your radiologists and improving the bottom line for the organization. This has become a lot easier with the advent of cloud technology. The right Teleradiology software for you depends on your needs and the size of your practice. It is the 80/20 rule. 80% of the features are nice to have, but the 20% features impact the bottom line and should be considered as must haves.

Some Teleradiology providers offer an extensive range of Teleradiology software solutions with many extra features that you might not need – and will end up paying more than you actually need. Do you really want an integrated billing system? Marketing services? Do you need a Teleradiology solution bundled with contracted radiologists?

On the other hand, if you are based in a bigger health ecosystem and you need a wide range of services, you will prefer a Teleradiology software that offers an all-in-one solution.

Minimal set-up

When it comes to adopting a new Teleradiology software and then training the staff it will require a ton of resources and time. If possible, look for a web-based solution, or opt for a user-friendly Teleradiology software and simple implementation. Consider a product which has no capital investments, no maintenance costs and you can still keep your Radiology reading team excited and productive!

RIS and EMR integration

If you want to archive any transmitted medical images and radiology consults, how will you? How will these files be incorporated into your patient records? Check with the teleradiology software provider whether they offer EMR integration or compatible radiology information systems (RIS). If you are looking to archive the studies and the reports you need to make sure that they are stored in a VNA. You must be able to get out of the relationship with the vendor and move out with all your data and take it elsewhere. You need to be assured that the data is not stored in any proprietary format and is stored in standard DICOM. Check if the vendor complies with HL7 standards and HIPAA guidelines.

Patient portal

Will you be sharing medical images with your patients? Check if the Teleradiology solution provides a patient portal that allows them to share images with the patients in a hassle free manner without the printing, and couriering the media costs.

Mobile solutions

Based on your need for mobile devices, in your practice, you may want to explore teleradiology software that is mobile compatible.

That way, providers can retrieve and enhance medical images and radiology consults on their devices while on the go.

Cost

A Teleradiology solution can be an effective way to expand radiology services while saving money. However, one has to evaluate all the associated costs. Ask the Teleradiology software provider for a detailed pricing quote, in writing. Consider the below questions when doing the ROI.

How can operational efficiency and the productivity of my team improve? Can I shoot for a goal of 30% improvement or more?

How can I reduce the maintenance cost of my system that I purchase?
How can I spend more time on my business rather than on the system related stuff?
How reliable and stable is the company who is offering this product?
Can I have a full feature trial of the system before I decide to buy?
What is my monthly cash outflow with this system?
Can I get an obligation free consultancy with an expert and discuss my needs?
How can my team benefit from the use of the system?
Support: This is one of the important criteria for selection. Question to be asked are

Does your company provide 24x7x365 support?
Can I see your Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
Do you support multiple languages in your software?
Do you have local support people?
What happens when a feature of the system does not work? How soon can I expect a response? Is there a way to replace the system? If so how quickly can it be replaced? (This is a challenge especially in an ONSITE solution and a cloud-based solution has advantages here!)
Security

Teleradiology software needs to be HIPAA compliant. If you don’t have the IT resources to configure a secure virtual private network (VPN) and set-up a DICOM router, you may want to ask a Teleradiology provider if they will help get you set-up.

While the vendors are constantly working to improve their product offerings, the end user also has to do their due diligence before the purchase. All this happens all the time in the industry but it helps to have a check-list and go through it so you don’t lose track of any specific item! Teleradiology Solution can be an effective way for small to large health systems to expand their radiology services and offer 24/7 access. Find the right Teleradiology solution now.

06 Jul 2015
teleradiology for Diagnostic Centers

7 Signs That Diagnostic Centers Should Invest In Tele-Radiology

In today’s competitive healthcare environment, running a diagnostic imaging center is not easy. Apart from the high equipment cost at startup, operational and ongoing financial challenges abound. A technology innovation that can assist owners of diagnostic centers in optimizing their center’s performance is teleradiology. This article lists the typical scenarios in which owners of diagnostic centers can benefit from this pathbreaking healthcare innovation.

  1. A chain of new diagnostic imaging centers is being opened.

The best time to invest in teleradiology is at the time of expansion from a single center facility (either a diagnostic center or a nursing home or hospital) to a multicenter practice setup. This is when teleradiology will bring you maximum benefits, as it will allow you to utilize your existing radiologist staffing more efficiently. One radiologist at one of the sites can potentially report Xray and CT/MRI scans for all the centers. An onsite radiologist will be required at each site for performing ultrasounds and procedures.

  1. Scans are not getting reported on time and the patients and referring doctors are complaining.

Implementing teleradiology is a highly effective way to improve your report turnaround time. It brings the images to your radiologist and allows him/her to report them instantly, instead of your having to wait for the radiologist to show up at work. Furthermore, using an efficient teleradiology workflow platform (Radspa developed by TeleradTech is one such example) can significantly improve your radiologists’ reporting efficiency and thereby further shorten the reporting times.

  1. The diagnostic imaging center has started receiving injury cases at night that need immediate reporting.

Emergency Nighthawk/urgent care is where teleradiology makes its greatest impact. If your hospital or diagnostic center is open 24 hours and scans are being performed through the night then you can greatly benefit from teleradiology, either by allowing your own radiologist to report from his or her own home at night or if that is too taxing for them, by outsourcing your reporting to a teleradiology reporting center that provides 24 x 7 services. Remember though to check reporting quality standards and accreditations!

  1. The center is unable to find a radiologist to report the scans.

In the current scenario of radiologist shortages, this is not an uncommon situation and the radiologist staffing at any site can suddenly become a problem. Teleradiology can help by either allowing your radiologist to report the scans from wherever he or she may be, or by allowing you to outsource your radiology reporting to a teleradiology reporting center.

  1. The reporting radiologist is getting frustrated and burnt out with the increasing workload.

As your diagnostic center volumes increase it may become more difficult for your radiologist to cope with the workload. In such situations, teleradiology can be a helpful backup to direct your excess case workload to a teleradiology reporting service.

  1. The radiologist is excellent with reporting xrays and ultrasounds but not comfortable with CT and MRI.

Advanced imaging techniques such as CT and MRI are rapidly evolving and becoming more and more complex, not all radiologists may be comfortable reporting all types of exams especially pediatric, musculoskeletal or cardiovascular. In such cases, referring such complex examinations to a teleradiology reporting center can improve the quality of reporting by gaining access to a subspecialist radiologist with expertise in the specific type of examination.

  1. The center requires a backup of all the scans done without the hassle of maintaining it on site.

Using teleradiology allows one to maintain a remote archive of all of one’s scans and reports, on the cloud, with complete security. This can be a valuable backup archive for an imaging center, so that there is never any loss of patient information or images.

The above points are a brief synopsis of the many benefits that teleradiology can afford to the promoters of a diagnostic imaging center. To help unleash the full potential of an imaging center, teleradiology holds the key today.

30 Sep 2014
Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Architecture

A pie in the sky or a really useful technology?

Healthcare enterprises are adopting the cloud computing architecture and cloud computing services, with open arms. While initially there were concerns about security on the cloud server, over the last few years, all these doubts have been cleared and the cloud-based solution is here to stay! Here are some advantages of cloud-based computing.

If you are:
1) A hospital wanting to share images with another hospital
2) A Radiologist wanting to view studies and dictate a report from anywhere at anytime
3) A referring physician who wants to look at a Radiologists report and discuss the procedure with a patient
4) A transcriptionist who wants to transcribe a dictation of a Radiologist
5) A management executive who wants to constantly look at business analytics and create strategies
6) A patient who wants to receive a report of a recent exam

Then the chances are that you are doing all this via the cloud. It could be a private cloud, a hybrid cloud or a public cloud.

What unique advantages do cloud technology and cloud hosting offer my business?
No hardware and software costs
No cost of ownership and maintenance (24×7 support)
No worries about archiving and backup
Latest version of software, operating system, hardware
Common platform for radiologists, physicians for sharing
Low cost, pay per use, good cash flow
The images are stored as per HIPAA compliance needs and are available for 7, 14 or 21 years. The entire cloud computing architecture is replicated in real time across a different geographical territory to enable disaster management. In addition, the images show up as PRIORS when a physician or a radiologist views the recent study of a patient thereby making a diagnosis simpler and easier. Most importantly the end user does not have to worry about maintenance of the hardware. This is a huge cost saving for both the large healthcare enterprise as well as the small clinics.

With cloud computing architecture and cloud computing services, the end user can now focus on his business and forget the rest !