Defining teleradiology is easy: The electronic transmission of radiographic images and reports from one location to another. But from that singular definition has grown a wide range of uses and adaptations to meet the needs of a variety of teleradiology users.
Much of teleradiologys benefit is its convenience. On-call radiologists make fewer or shorter visits to the hospital or clinic; referring physicians have faster, easier access to patient records; and hospital physicians can call up a patients image from anywhere in the hospital network.
But for rural physicians or smaller facilities, teleradiology offers more than just convenience. It can become a lifeline to general radiology services and subspecialty consultations to which they would not otherwise have access.
Creating a teleradiology network is not always easy or possible and how to go about it varies considerably depending on the services needed, the cost and the telecommunication system available in the area. Some facilities say technology is no longer a problem, while others still struggle with network breakdowns and poor image quality.
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (Iowa City) made an early entrance into providing teleradiology services. After 10 years, it now serves a dozen healthcare facilities in Iowa. Some just use the teleradiology service as a backup to their own radiologists, while others use the service to read all of the images generated at their imaging clinic or hospital.
Please refer to the June 2001 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis