By Aine Cryts

Supporting radiologists with access to remote reading can be a meaningful way to retain a talented radiologist workforce—despite the technology and policy challenges. That’s according to Ontario, Canada-based Don K. Dennison, who has 18 years of experience in medical imaging informatics.

“The work-life balance offered by home reading is often cited as a way of reducing the pressures that lead to physician burnout,” he tells AXIS Imaging News. The ability to interpret studies from home is particularly attractive for subspecialists—including for consults with peers and referring clinicians—and for reading images during off-hours.

Then there’s the reality that all cloud-based—or third-party data center-hosted PACS deployments—essentially provide remote-reading platforms. What’s important for radiology groups and departments is taking a mindful approach to managing remote deployments of workstations and putting in place the policies, procedures, and support tools to adapt to these platforms, according to Dennison.

AXIS recently tapped Dennison for best practices on supporting radiologists in the remote-reading environment. What follows are some tough questions radiology decision-makers must ask and answer.

  1. What happens if the workstation hardware breaks down? Does the organization have a support model to send IT desktop support to the workstation in the radiologist’s home? What if there’s a long drive? What happens if the IT staff member is injured during the commute to the radiologist’s home? Who’s liable if that happens?
  2. How does the department or group handle hardware refreshes—even for monitors—with home-based workstations? Does the radiologist who reads from home have to pack up and bring the workstation into IT support? What happens if the radiologist breaks the equipment? Who pays for it?
  3. What are the organization’s capabilities to manage desktop images remotely? This is particularly important when it comes to conducting configuration changes or applying updates, asserts Dennison.
  4. What’s the plan to ensure radiologists have access to the latest versions of information security applications, such as anti-virus software?
  5. How will IT staff remotely suspend access to the workstation? This could occur, says Dennison, if a radiologist is dismissed for cause.
  6. Who pays for the IT staff member who goes to the radiologist’s home to fix the workstation if one of the radiologist’s children plays video games on the computer and it negatively impacts the set-up?

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for AXIS Imaging News.