By Aine Cryts
Any discussion of remote reading by radiologists must start by defining what it is, Don K. Dennison, FSIIM, an 18-year medical imaging informatics veteran based in Ontario, Canada, tells AXIS Imaging News. While remote reading typically refers to a situation where a radiologist is interpreting studies at a location that’s different from the system’s servers, Dennison delves a bit deeper.

“More specifically, [remote reading] refers to reading exams over a network connection with lower bandwidth, and often higher latency, compared to a reading room connected by [a] local area network,” he says. And he observes that reading over a long distance with access to great network connectivity may provide a better experience for the interpreting radiologist than interpreting over a short distance if poor connectivity is an issue.

Here are three tips for setting up remote reading for radiologists, according to Dennison:

1. Focus on the entirety of the radiologist’s reading environment. Radiologists and their IT teams tend to focus on image display performance when they’re considering home or remote reading. He suggests taking a more holistic view of the radiologist’s reading environment. “A complete reading environment today requires the reading list, image display, report creator, and patient history,” he says.

Point of fact: The patient history is provided in the EHR. This helps display all patient information in an easy-to-understand manner, says Dennison.

2. IT security has to be top of mind. When constructing a remote reading environment, the IT team should use a virtual private network (VPN) or similar secure connection, in accordance with the radiology group or hospital’s information security policies, advises Dennison.

It’s important to remember that some applications may be accessed over a virtual desktop infrastructure–and that set-up is often not acceptable for diagnostic image reading, he adds. In addition, for facilities using two-factor authentication, a key fob reader, for example, may be required to be deployed in any remote reading environments.

3. Reading environment consistency is key to radiologist productivity. Radiologists perform best when their reading environment is consistent, says Dennison. When IT staff ensures that remote workstation hardware and monitors are deployed appropriately, that leaves the radiologist to focus on interpreting studies, which is the best use of the radiologist’s time, he adds.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for AXIS Imaging News.