Teleradiology allows remote analysis and examination of medical imaging studies by radiologists, providing access to specialists when not available on site. Imaging is performed on site and sent to a teleradiologist for review, with potential use in emergencies and small communities. Disaster response and remote medical care benefit from the practice. Radiologists must attend school and may work unusual shifts with varying rates of pay and employee benefits.
Teleradiology is a practice in which data from medical imaging studies is transmitted to a remote location for analysis and examination by a radiologist. Radiologists do not need to be on site with the patient to interpret test results, and teleradiology provides access to highly trained specialists when they may not otherwise be available. Many medical centers use this service, and there are companies that specialize in teleradiology services, with headquarters staffed by radiologists who can read imaging studies at all hours, so they’re available for emergencies.
In teleradiology, imaging is performed on site with the patient, under the supervision of a radiology technician. Images are packaged for transmission and sent to a teleradiologist for review. One potential use of teleradiology is in a hospital or clinic where a full-time radiologist is not available and patient footage must be read in emergencies and other situations. Radiologists can also send images to colleagues for a second opinion. In small communities where highly trained specialists are not available, teleradiology provides residents with access to such specialists.
Notes on the patient’s situation are usually sent with the images. The radiologist examines the images and considers them in light of the patient’s information, developing a report for use by physicians involved in the immediate treatment of the patient. Non-emergency teleradiology can involve the diagnostic examination of a wide range of images, along with examining images to confirm the success of a treatment or to determine whether a patient qualifies for insurance coverage for a particular procedure or condition .
Individuals interested in working in teleradiology must attend school to become a radiologist and may consider pursuing board certification and specialization to make themselves more employable. They may opt for regular hours in a facility or they may choose to work unusual shifts, reviewing imaging studies in emergency situations where a quick turnaround is needed. Rates of pay vary according to skill level and hours worked, and people may also be eligible for employee benefits such as health insurance.
One area where this practice has been extremely useful is disaster response and the provision of medical care to people in remote and isolated areas. In these settings it is not always possible to bring radiology teams into the field and the ability to transmit basic radiological images to someone in another location for interpretation can save lives and improve the quality of care. Telehealth is an area of particular research interest for humanitarian organizations, as it allows them to deploy small rapid response teams supported by powerful resources.