When medical images must be interpreted on nights and weekends for urgent cases, many radiology practices in the United States outsource this responsibility. The American College of Radiology estimates that about half of all U.S. radiology practices use external, outsourced teleradiology services, which employ radiologists elsewhere in the U.S. and in foreign countries to read medical images online.
Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg (RAF) is not one of these practices.
RAF provides on-site radiologists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at the Mary Washington Hospital Campus. The on-site radiologists, who have subspecialist fellowship training, also cover after-hour needs at Stafford Hospital, and Mary Washington’s freestanding Emergency & Outpatient Center located at Lee’s Hill, accessing medical images through a Picture Archive Computer System.
In addition to after-hours coverage, RAF’s 29 physicians provide diagnostic radiology services during regular patient hours at the two hospitals, emergency center, and four outpatient imaging centers: Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg, the Imaging Center for Women, Medical Imaging at Lee’s Hill, and Medical Imaging of North Stafford. RAF’s interventional radiologists and vascular surgeon also serve patients at the acute care facilities and at their outpatient offices, Virginia Interventional & Vascular Associates.
David L. Glasser, MD, president of RAF and board-certified diagnostic radiologist, says the group’s leadership has evaluated the pros and cons of outsourced teleradiology services. RAF concluded that local referring physicians and patients are best served by local radiologists.
“We were concerned that teleradiology companies were outsourcing to radiologists off site who may or may not be credentialed, may or may not have access to a patient’s previous imaging studies, and may or may not provide easy access for the local medical community when consultations are needed quickly,” Dr. Glasser said. “Unfortunately, many groups choose to outsource late night and overnight radiology studies purely for convenience.”
RAF leaders believe outsourced teleradiology services should be considered only in remote locations, localities where too few radiologists are available to provide round- the-clock coverage, or situations where radiology groups cannot offer the same degree of subspecialists available through practices like RAF.
Dr. Glasser said outsourced teleradiology services also were unappealing to RAF because the group’s leadership felt it was difficult to separate the four components of radiology without sacrificing overall quality. Radiologists are responsible for:
- Evaluation of appropriateness – Determining that the correct study is being used to answer the clinical For example, would the patient benefit from an MRI versus a CT scan?
- Oversight – Ensuring that the correct equipment protocol is used, safeguards are in place, and imaging technologists are supervised as needed, thereby obtaining the best result while limiting radiation exposure.
- Interpretation – Providing state-of-the-art interpretation of results, which includes comparisons with previous imaging studies, when available, to aid diagnosis.
- Consultation – Conferring with referring physicians and, in some cases, directly with patients when questions arise about imaging results.
“Radiology is more than just image interpretation,” Dr. Glasser explained.
The provision of 24/7 on-site radiology coverage for acute care centers is one important facet of RAF’s services to the region, which covers Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Southern Prince William, and adjacent counties.
“We believe our patients and referring clinicians can benefit the most when we provide radiologists, on site, who are subspecialists, committed to state-of-the- art technology, and integrated with the local medical community,” Dr. Glasser said.
Future issues of Imaging Advances will explore key subspecialties, technology, and local medical initiatives.
For more information, please contact David L. Glasser, MD, at email@example.com or call (540) 361-1000 and leave