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Experts discuss the best practices for remote reading at SIIM20

by Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | June 30, 2020
Health IT
Remote reading for radiology is here to stay in the wake of the novel coronavirus, and imaging centers need to take the time to plan for how to best deploy and support workstations, experts stressed during the SIIM20 Virtual Meeting.

“Once we start putting out equipment and putting out solutions physically away from the site where we’re already sitting … it becomes more complicated to support, and it’s really difficult to marshal resources if they’re not coordinated correctly,” said Matt Hayes, PACS manager for Radiology Partners, a large physician-led and owned radiology practice.

Hayes noted that it’s important to make sure to formalize workplace standards and make sure that specialized staff gets appropriate equipment.

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“Do you have a remote neuroradiologist that needs four diagnostic monitors? Do they like having the widescreen format?” Hayes said. “It just adds another layer of complication because you have to start getting these things out.”

Imaging centers also have to figure out how to set up the equipment in people’s homes in the age of social distancing, and create a plan for technical support. Hayes added a tip to remote readers to not discard shipping boxes in case faulty equipment needs to be returned.

Hayes also recommended creating a website or PDF with quick tips with photos that can be utilized before the reader contacts the practice’s help desk.

“Visual helps,” Hayes said. “When they say, ‘Did you check the HDMI port?’ put a picture in the document of what the HDMI port is.”

Michael Silosky, assistant professor of radiology and radiological science at the University of Colorado Denver, spoke about making smart equipment choices when implementing remote workstations.

“You should start limiting them to experienced readers as much as is feasible,” Silosky said.

Practices should use medical displays when available. Practices that can’t buy medical-grade displays should purchase devices that mimic the properties of medical grade displays as much as possible. They should be calibrated to the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) Grayscale Standard Display Function (GSDF).

Practices should also control the physician reading environment as much as possible, Silosky said. If not, they should ensure that the physicians performing remote reading understand the need to control their lighting conditions.

It’s clear that these best practices are going to continue even as the COVID-19 pandemic begins abating.

“Remote very well could be the new normal, and people found that the productivity that they’ve gotten is only going to increase,” Hayes said. “We’re going to have to adapt.”

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