Teleradiology: What Lies Ahead?
June 24, 2014
Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last decade. As with any technological field, the medical community should expect to see advancements in teleradiology services in the near future.
Teleradiology in and of itself is a quantum leap forward for the world of medicine and health care. It has made things possible that were unheard of in the past.
For instance, teleradiology makes it possible to provide radiology services for patients without having a radiologist at the physical location. It is a vast improvement for small hospitals in remote locations that don't have a radiologist on site during nights and weekends because with teleradiology, services are possible 24/7.
Teleradiology Then & Now
Originally, teleradiology was primarily used for medical facilities without a radiologist present at night, on the weekends or holidays.
However, this is a field that has grown rapidly by leaps and bounds. Great strides have been made and will continue to be made as teleradiology comes into its own with the passing of time.
Teleradiology has improved and will keep on improving as technology expands and improves.
In its infancy, teleradiology was fairly slow and crude. Image data was captured with only moderate accuracy and resolution.
Nowadays, teleradiology systems are integrated or connected to a Picture Archiving and Communication System, or PACS, using the standard of the American College of Radiology DICOM---Digital Imaging Communication in Medicine.
Communication has been made much faster with high speed internet, increased computer power and more memory at a lower cost. Display technology has also made huge improvements, to the extent that it is now possible to view conventional radiographs along with CT, MR and ultrasound.
Factor in the advances made in image compression which allows packages of data to be compressed more tightly and it is evident that teleradiology is moving ahead at a fast pace.
Future Projections for the Teleradiology Field
- More accurate reports due to more user friendly tools that enable radiologists and techs to share data and research difficult cases.
- Advances in technology that will allow for faster, more accurate reports and more reliable communication.
- More facilities will move away from prelims and toward finals, simplifying Health Level 7 messaging.
- An increase in specifically tailored curricula for residency programs will help meet the growing demand for skilled teleradiologists.
- More of a need for standard fellowship trained teleradiologists in the fields of neurology, pediatrics and musculoskeletal medicine.
- A rise in teleradiology specific focused positions in ER and other areas.
- More and more rural groups will staff some positions with a teleradiology group.
- Tighter security for teleradiology to enable the best possible patient privacy protection.
- An increase in new and advanced software technology that will simplify and streamline the entire teleradiology process.
Based on current trends and predicted needs, what lies ahead for teleradiology is a bright future with enhanced ability to provide even better patient care.