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COVID-19 pandemic boosts reliance on remote radiologists

by Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | April 06, 2020
Business Affairs Telemedicine X-Ray

"A year from now, we're going to look back on this and there's going to be all kinds of things that we believed were not possible, that turned out to be quite possible with a little bit of concerted effort," Dennison said. "There have been people who have advocated for telehealth in general for years, and not gotten much change in the institutionalized practices of health systems, who are now the shining stars. There have been people who have been advocating for public health analytics for years and now they're on the front page."

The panel addressed the protocols in place to ensure radiologists are getting work done, and the bandwidth requirements.

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Fallon said they have a remote reading rotation built into the radiologists’ schedules, and some monitoring being done.

“We’re able to see when users are logged on, we’re able to see when they’re signing the reports,” Fallon said. “There’s a baked-in accountability to our teleradiologists, having used this remote reading program for the past three years.”

Dennison noted that appropriate bandwidth is key to a successful teleradiology program, with the lowest bandwidth around 10MB and the largest around 100MB, with virtual private networks (VPNs) necessary for security.

Fallon said his facility requires remote readers to have at least 50 Mbps download speeds, though some users go down to around 10 when using the VPN, in which case they switch to an “internet streaming mode” of loading studies. To help, the system is shifting to a radiology-focused VPN.

“Because we weren’t consistently getting that 50 megs, we work with users to make sure that they have business class internet with high network availability speeds, and then also we’re pivoting to using our own radiology-focused VPN,” Fallon said. “We’re just rolling it out today to all of our users, but in our testing, we’re seeing much better speeds without having to share that bandwidth.”

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