To consistently provide high-value radiology services, facilities of all sizes must be nimble enough to meet fluctuating imaging demands without sacrificing quality. Teleradiology is often the solution to which hospitals turn for this purpose, but replacing face-to-face connections with an entirely remote team can do more harm than good. Integrated teleradiology models, hybrid models that balance workflow among on-site radiologists and a network of teleradiologists based on subspecialty and load balancing, are a compelling solution to this challenge. Fully integrated teleradiology models make imaging services more accessible while elevating patient experience, physician satisfaction and quality of care.
Rigid, Narrow Workflows Negatively Impact Care Quality.
In radiology, flexibility is at the center of delivering a higher overall value of care. Without flexibility, healthcare facilities large and small can encounter hurdles to delivering high-quality patient care and reducing healthcare costs. These hurdles often include procedure inefficiencies and redundancies and are often exacerbated by insufficiently adapting to the ebb and flow of demand for radiology services.
When Demand Doesn’t Meet Access
Many radiology teams at smaller healthcare facilities lack the support of a full suite of subspecialized radiologists. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the American College of Radiology, 29.1 percent of rural hospitals fall short of meeting demand for interventional radiology services.
When Resources Aren’t Adequately Allocated
On the other hand, a larger facility with a full complement of subspecialists may experience lulls in demand for subspecialized reads. This leaves the subspecialists to read studies that don’t require their expertise, which can lead to dissatisfaction and contribute to burnout. According to Medscape’s 2021 National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report, 36 percent of radiologists report feeling burned out. The same study also reports potential solutions identified by physicians who have experienced burnout; two of the highest performers were “more reasonable patient loads” (30 percent) and “more manageable work and schedule” (42 percent).
When the “Solution” Is Faceless
Often, hospitals turn to teleradiology services for help in tackling these challenges. However, if improperly implemented, these services can create silos in your radiology department, divorcing on-site radiologists from their teleradiologist counterparts. In the absence of a robust communication and case routing platform that prioritizes final reads and collaboration, teleradiologists can become faceless entities to on-site radiologists and frontline clinicians. This segmentation of radiology and clinical teams elevates the risk for quality issues, reduces patient satisfaction and creates tension among teleradiologists, on-site radiologists and frontline clinicians.
Integrated Teleradiology Is the Real Solution.
Regardless of facility size, inefficient operations, imbalanced workloads and faceless teleradiology services can limit the effectiveness of your radiology group, causing quality issues, poor throughput and unhappy patients.
Integrating teleradiologists with on-site radiologists in a meaningful way and forging connections between leadership of both groups foster collaboration and create a flexible, dynamic workflow that resolves inefficiencies, regardless of facility size, while ensuring read quality. This solution can elevate patient experience, physician satisfaction and quality of care. But what does a fully integrated teleradiology model look like?
Envision Physician Services can build an integrated teleradiology model customized to your facility’s needs and volume. Talk to our experienced practice development team today to learn more.
How Teleradiology Integration Works
At the most basic level, an integrated radiology ecosystem utilizes both on-site and off-site radiologists. However, for an integrated model to function at its highest potential, the model must facilitate true collaboration between the two groups, optimizing communication and workflows so that the two complement each other and are able to meet demands while delivering accurate reads. Under these conditions, the integrated model unlocks the greatest value for hospitals, clinicians and patients.
For teleradiologists and on-site radiologists to truly complement each other, a radiology program must leverage an optimized team and refined case routing to create an efficient radiology ecosystem that ensures high-quality reads and a collaborative quality assurance process. Both of these elements are largely dependent upon two factors: the scale of your network of radiologists and the capabilities of your integrated technologies.
Once you’ve implemented a fully integrated teleradiology program, the improvements to care quality, workflow efficiency and clinician satisfaction are hard to ignore.
1. Boosting Case Routing Efficiency
Refined case routing is integral to any teleradiology program, making a powerful AI-enabled digital platform a necessity. This platform must be capable of delivering the right imaging to the right specialist to get the most accurate read and diagnosis for even the most complex cases. When the right results are routed to the right radiologists, reads are delivered faster, boosting turnaround times (TAT) as well as the overall efficiency and quality of your radiology services.
2. Improving Practice Quality for Clinicians
Too often, off-site radiologists can feel divorced from the hospitals that send them images. When radiologists operate apart from frontline clinicians, care quality and efficiency suffer, but so too does the quality of practice for everyone involved.
Fully integrated teleradiology services don’t just complement your clinical operations; they also buoy professional wellness by easing the workload and removing stressors. For instance, the level of clinical integration that Envision Physician Services’ teleradiology models achieve helps reduce stress on frontline clinicians by making radiologists available to them 24/7.
For radiologists, integrated teleradiology means choices. It enables them to choose when and how to work. Working as part of an integrated network allows radiologists to either focus on cases within their subspecialty area or to accept a more generalized case load, making a diverse, fulfilling practice easier to achieve.
3. Allowing Real-time Collaboration
Loose integration of off-site radiology services with the hospitals they serve can translate to longer TAT, delaying diagnoses and forcing patients to wait longer than they should have to.
Fully integrated teleradiology models don’t have this issue because they achieve a higher level of clinical integration. For instance, Envision Physician Services’ teleradiology models rely on proprietary software that connects on-site radiologists and frontline clinicians at partner facilities to a national network of subspecialists that is available 24/7. In this way, the off-site radiologists can be better integrated into the workflow at each facility, allowing real-time collaboration among teleradiologists, on-site radiologists and frontline clinicians and ensuring that each patient receives timely, high-quality care.
4. Expanding Access to Underserved Communities
Making subspecialty expertise available to underserved communities increases patients’ ability to access the care they need, which leads to a healthier population. Integrated teleradiology models rely on off-site radiologists to optimize radiology workflows at the hospitals at which they’re utilized, with models like Envision’s utilizing vast and diverse networks of subspecialists to ensure that each image reaches the radiologist most suited to read it and that each patient gets the most accurate diagnosis.
Envision Physician Services’ integrated teleradiology can help your radiology services thrive. Ready to see how an evolved radiology model can be the solution for your facility?