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There’s no denying how technology has helped healthcare systems deliver higher-quality care to their patients. From enhanced medical products and equipment to better data collection and storage methods, professionals and patients alike benefit from advancements in technology.
Perhaps one of the most important developments, however, has been the adoption of the cloud in healthcare. The cloud is the foundation of many modern healthcare systems, and has made it easier for physicians to improve patient care.
This being said, some practices, like radiology, have been slower to welcome cloud technologies into their workflows. That is, until recently. Let’s take a closer look at how and why the move to teleradiology is rapidly becoming a reality.
What is teleradiology?
While healthcare as a whole has been positively impacted by the cloud and its accompanying technologies, radiology, in particular, can use these solutions to its advantage. When radiologists incorporate the IT equipment and medical devices that utilize the cloud they unlock the power of teleradiology.
As its name suggests, teleradiology is the combination of radiology and telehealth. It’s the ability for these professionals to take important medical images, such as X-rays, MRIs, CTs and ultrasounds, and send them to another location electronically. When radiologists at private practices, urgent care clinics and hospitals can send these high-quality images to other specialists quickly, they improve patient care by reducing the time it takes to reach a diagnosis or create a care plan.
Of course, for a teleradiology model to succeed, both the sending and receiving facility must be equipped with the necessary tools and technology. This, in addition to the often overcomplicated process of integrating systems, has made many radiology centers hesitant to move to cloud-based systems. That is until very recently.
Reasons for the adoptions of cloud-based systems
Today, more radiology practices are integrating their systems and investing in cloud-based technology to enhance their capabilities and quality of care. The rapid move toward teleradiology didn’t happen by chance, but rather because of an accumulation of recent events and acknowledgements:
The COVID-19 pandemic served as the catalyst for many practices to ramp up their use of teleradiology. Writing for the Radiology Society of North America, Mike Bassett explained that many radiology practices and departments had to shift their workflows and processes almost overnight to adapt to remote work. As providing medical imaging services remotely became a reality, radiologists had to rely on telemedicine and virtual technology tools to maintain their workloads. Basset noted that teleradiology not only made it possible for practices to easily share information with specialists and streamline patient care (thus reducing the number of appointments), but also improved internal processes. Many radiologists operating remotely found that teleradiology makes it easier to virtually communicate with their team.
Another challenge the field faces is a shortage of radiologists. The most recent data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that there could be a potential physician shortage by 2033. This includes an estimated shortage between 17,100 and 41,900 of radiologists and other specialists. The need for more radiologists is, in part, due to an aging population and a healthcare system that is currently reliant on a physician workforce where the majority of employees are nearing traditional retirement age. Teleradiology enables these specialists to enhance their capabilities and communication without hiring more staff. With a projected shortage of these specialists in the next decade, teleradiology can help practices sustain their care models.
As more practices embrace teleradiology, the benefits of supplementing radiology with telecommunications technology are also becoming apparent. Here are a few of the key advantages practices can experience with teleradiology:
- Cost savings: Telehealth has been proven to help healthcare facilities lower costs. Writing for Health Tech Advisor, Ruchika Sharma explained that telehealth can streamline care delivery, avoid hospital readmission and reduce costly or duplicate procedures. All of this not only benefits the quality of patient care, it also improves a facility’s bottom line.
- Efficiency: With the ability to easily share medical images with other specialists regardless of distance, the process of diagnosing and creating a care plan for patients is streamlined.
- Knowledge network: When a practice incorporates teleradiology into their workflow they join a network of other specialists and trained radiologists. This allows them to pool their expertise and knowledge. Similarly, when working with a partner to enable teleradiology these practices have IT support readily available.
Overcoming barriers to implementing teleradiology
While teleradiology is becoming a reality for many practices, incorporating it into existing systems and workflows does not come without its challenges. To unlock the benefits of teleradiology, practices must integrate their essential data and ensure it is accessible to different professionals in their care network. However, there are often barriers that get in the way of this seamless transition and seriously impact the quality of patient care.
When you have a partner like Tangible Solutions by your side that is experienced with integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), removing these roadblocks is possible. At Tangible, iPaaS is designed to remove the traditional burdens of data sharing, including that of medical images. While it’s possible to set the time and money aside to build connections between your systems yourself, you can rely on iPaaS for a simpler and more affordable solution for your integration needs.
Healthcare practices across various specialties rely on Tangible Solutions and our expertise in creating clinically integrated networks. iPaaS is a highly scalable and flexible solution, so as your radiology practice grows and the need for teleradiology changes, so can your internal systems with minimal downtime. This hub-and-spoke model is also what makes iPaaS an affordable solution for practices large and small. No matter your needs and goals for teleradiology, you can choose how much (or how little) support is necessary depending on your budget and existing systems.
Contact the team at Tangible Solutions today to learn more about how iPaaS can help make teleradiology a reality for your practice.