How to Choose a Quality Teleradiology PARTNER
The American College of Radiology published a guideline for best practices in teleradiology. Does your teleradiology provider meet these standards?
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How to Choose a Quality Teleradiology Partner
If you’re in the process of selecting a teleradiology partner for your hospital, radiology group, or other medical practice, you will likely soon find—if you haven’t already—that numerous players are vying for your business. Ultimately, you’ll want to find a reliable company that can provide high-quality reads from qualified radiologists at a quick turnaround and competitive price.
Although many teleradiology service providers can compete on a price level, not all have established talent, processes, and systems when it comes to delivering service excellence. This is a vital factor to consider when making a decision that will affect patient care. Indeed, if you base your choice solely on cost, you may be risking loss of several value-added features, such as:
Quality Assurance (QA)
You’ll want to entrust the health of your patients—as well as the health of your business—to qualified, U.S.-based radiologists. Look for experienced professionals who are fellowship-trained and certified by the American Board of Radiology (ABR) (or eligible for certification). Also, a teleradiology provider should have an active QA program in place to confirm that they function under a highly developed regimen of best practices. For example, REAL Radiology’s QA program utilizes a dedicated committee of radiologists, a random double-blind re-reading of 2% of studies, and it participates in RADPEER while others implement limited ad hoc QA reviews.
The scope of radiology varies widely. For instance, you may need to interpret imaging studies from many different modalities, including:
· X-ray (XR/CR)
· Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI or MR)
· Computed tomography (CT scan or CAT scan)
· Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT scan)
· Ultrasound (US or U/S)
· Nuclear cameras (NM or NUC)
· Mammography (MM or mammo)
· Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DX)
Therefore, to round out your practice, you’ll need ready access to a diverse group of radiology subspecialists who have highly refined knowledge in their respective areas of expertise. Ideally, qualified radiologists should be available to you 24/7/365, ensuring that you receive the same level of service regardless of when you contact them. At REAL Radiology, we have experts in all of these subspecialties, providing an efficient solution for any imaging interpretations that are needed.
Accredited by The Joint Commission
Accredited by The Joint Commission (2013), REAL Radiology holds ourselves to the highest standards of excellence. An independent, nonprofit enterprise, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 20,500 hospitals and other health care organizations in the United States with a goal to continually improve medical services for the general public. Accreditation by The Joint Commission is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects a teleradiology provider’s commitment to meeting or exceeding rigorous performance standards. Receiving the Gold Seal of Approval® in 2013, REAL Radiology remains in good standing and is accredited by The Joint Commission.
Workflow Efficiency & Turnaround Time
Other important factors to consider are how efficiently the teleradiology provider can turn around image interpretations and how their clients are able to access the reports. For instance, some providers have radiologists who read imaging studies from the imaging facility or from their personal reading office. If the physician is reading remotely, there may be some limitations in how they are able to receive prior reports, or studies. Additionally, there may be limitations on how efficiently the reports are delivered. With REAL Radiology, the proximity of the physician is irrelevant, as state-of-the-art, cloud-based RIS/PACS ensures the right physician is reading the right study. The workflow coordinator can then route calls from between the referring physician and the reading radiologist, who is always available to discuss the results. For all critical findings, REAL Radiology follows the ACR guidelines and makes a physician-to-physician phone call as necessary. Finally, to streamline scheduling, REAL Radiology ensures that the right number of physicians are available at any given time, and that a physician owner is always on-call in case of spikes in study submissions.
A Shared Vision
Perhaps most importantly, your teleradiology provider should be committed to upholding the same high standards of excellence and professionalism that you do. Serving as your trusted partner, the provider should also facilitate and supplement your radiology practices rather than compete with them or attempt to replace them. REAL Radiology works closely with in-house radiologists in hospitals and other health care systems to ensure our practices and goals are aligned. REAL Radiology does not compete with local, regional radiology groups or employed radiologists at hospitals.