What Should You Look For in a Teleradiology Company?
There are a number of important factors to take into consideration when choosing a teleradiology solution for your diagnostic imaging needs.
Define your imaging needs
What are you looking for in a teleradiology company?
The advantage of using a teleradiology service is that is can be scaled to your particular imaging needs. The fact is, more electronic images are being produced that ever before and the trend looks set to continue well into the future. If you’re operating a small mobile imaging service you may need a full-time partner. A hospital may only need a backup for overflow cases or night reads.
Will you only send out orthopedic images or reads of various types? Defining the scope of your practice will help you narrow your list of potential providers.
Ensure there is room to grow
You want to be sure that the teleradiology group you select can grow and expand as your read volume increases. The ability of the telerad group to scale its services as you move from 200 reads a year to 2,000 or 20,000 reads a year is important to your business model.
The practice that exists for you today may look completely different 5 or 10 years from now. You want to make sure your teleradiology service can grow with you over time.
Finding a provider for subspecialty reads can help extend the business opportunities for an imaging practice. Subspecialty services put everything from neurological to orthopedic to cardiac imaging on the table, adding value to potential patients and adding cash to your practice and ensuring greater reliability for the patient.
This is one of the most important aspects of your relationship with a teleradiology company. The report that is created for each image is the report that you and your clients are going to read. Often, fast turn-around time leads to low quality reports. Radiologists play an extremely important role in the health of patients. Patients deserve accuracy and a high quality report.
You also want to ensure that you and your clients will be able to readily contact the radiologist who performed the read for follow-up review and clarification if needed.
Teleradiology Service Setup
A major provider can essentially plug and play but a smaller provider may be better able to customize a service for your specific needs and budget.
What turn-around time do you need and expect? In many cases, fast turn-around time is crucial in order to help satisfy your clients. Some teleradiology companies will tell you that they can deliver the turn-around time you expect and pay for but often fall short.
Imaging technology is constantly changing and improving with teleradiology playing an increasingly important role in radiology today. State of the art technology ensures that the quality of the images you are taking is delivered to your teleradiology group and stored at the highest possible quality and security of data.
Whether you are a mobile imaging company, hospital, or imaging center, you have invested large amounts of capital in imaging equipment. You should be assured that the teleradiology equipment is delivering the quality that you and your patients deserve.
Making sure your technical capabilities and demands mesh with those offered by a particular teleradiology provider is critical.
Does the teleradiology group offer you a PACS system at no additional charge? A PACS system allows for the distribution and storage of teleradiology images. Reports are commonly faxed or emailed to the ordering physician. Technology now allows for images and reports to be accessed over the web via a secure web login. You and your clients are able to access all of the images and reports for all of your patients anywhere in the world.
How thoroughly trained are the radiologists that you are using for your teleradiology needs? Are they fellowship trained? Are they board certified and sub-specialists?
Many radiologists go on to complete a fellowship after their residency training. Radiologists will typically complete a fellowship to help increase their knowledge of the radiology subspecialties.
There are also many sub specialty board certifications for Radiology. The American Board offers certification for the following sub specialties: Diagnostic Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Neuroradiology, Nuclear Medicine, Pediatric Radiology, Vascular Radiology, etc.
What’s the cost of using a teleradiology service?
This is likely the first question you will want to ask, but it’s not the most important. Teleradiology companies are not created equally. Although certainly a consideration, cost should not be the ultimate deciding factor. Determine what your needs are and what your budget limits are.