Teleradiology enables social distancing during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

May 21, 2020

Leesburg, VA, May 21, 2020--Remote reading of imaging studies on home PACS workstations can contribute to social distancing, protect vulnerable radiologists and others in the hospital, and ensure seamless interpretation capabilities in emergency scenarios, according to an open-access article published ahead-of-print by the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR).

"Transitioning from on-site interpretation to remote interpretation requires a careful balancing of hospital and departmental finances, engineering choices, and educational and philosophical workflow issues," wrote lead author Srini Tridandapani of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which uses iSite (Philips Professional Healthcare) for its PACS.

Financial Challenges and Engineering Choices

Given the difficulty of funding acquisition in the present environment, several radiologists from Tridandapani's institution offered computers from their laboratories or offices for redeployment as PACS workstations. "Unfortunately," Tridandapani et al. acknowledged, "many of the offered computers either did not have the processing or memory capacity to serve as PACS workstations or did not have the requisite connections to support all the peripherals needed." Moreover, hardware and software standardization for every remote workstation proved essential for efficient remote maintenance. "Ultimately," the authors continued, "our financial request from hospital administration mainly consisted of support for the hardware VPN (virtual private network) system and the standard display monitors, which we were able to secure within a week after conceptualization of the project."

Workstation Assignments

"Because we did not have the funding to equip all of our radiologists with remote PACS workstations, we had to make difficult choices regarding who would benefit the most from these workstations, and conversely who, if equipped with these workstations, could benefit the department the most," Tridandapani and colleagues explained. Providing remote reading for emergency radiologists was "the easiest part of this decision," as they interpret across a spectrum of modalities (radiography, ultrasound, CT, MRI) and organ systems (abdominal, cardiothoracic, musculoskeletal, neuroradiologic). However, to achieve equity between the radiologists assigned remote workstations and those needed for on-site reading, the former may be required to work more shifts than the latter. Due to curtailed outpatient imaging and the higher-quality monitors necessary for Mammography Quality Standards Act certification, workstations were not provided for the mammography section. Nuclear medicine was provided a secondary route for remote access to run its specialized PACS solution.

Workflow Redesign

Remote reading, coupled with the decline in imaging volume nationwide, significantly reduced the number of on-site interpreters at Tridandapani and team's institution--"three or fewer readers per reading room, depending on the size of the rooms," the authors noted. "We make sure that each section has at least one radiologist on-site to provide technologists with backup and to reassure them of our constant presence and availability," Tridandapani et al. continued. Limiting the presence of resident trainees, too, program directors scattered them across reading rooms at various off-site locations and within clinic buildings that were ostensibly closed to other functions. "We check in with residents periodically using the Primordial communication tool on the PACS workstation," Tridandapani and colleagues wrote, adding that the reduced workload has provided unique opportunities for both telephone and videoconferencing discussions regarding interesting cases.
-end-
Founded in 1900, the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) is the first and oldest radiological society in North America, dedicated to the advancement of medicine through the profession of radiology and its allied sciences. An international forum for progress in medical imaging since the discovery of the x-ray, ARRS maintains its mission of improving health through a community committed to advancing knowledge and skills with an annual scientific meeting, monthly publication of the peer-reviewed American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), quarterly issues of InPractice magazine, AJR Live Webinars and Podcasts, topical symposia, print and online educational materials, as well as awarding scholarships via The Roentgen Fund®.

American Roentgen Ray Society

Related Radiologists Articles from Brightsurf:

Electronic consultations between primary providers and radiologists improve patient care
According to ARRS' American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), the eConsult electronic consultation system allowed primary care providers to easily consult with radiologists, was perceived as high value by primary care providers, resulted in altered patient management, and avoided unnecessary imaging tests.

Interventional radiologists modify protocol for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
Radiologists who perform cross-sectional interventional procedures can take several steps to minimize the risks to patients and radiology personnel, including screening referred patients to decide which procedures can be postponed, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), minimizing the number of people involved in procedures, preserving PPE when possible, and applying proper room and equipment cleaning measures.

Artificial intelligence could serve as backup to radiologists' eyes
Deploying artificial intelligence could help radiologists to more accurately classify lung diseases.

What interventional radiologists need to know about frostbite and amputation
An ahead-of-print article in the April issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) reviewing various techniques and clinical management paradigms to treat severe frostbite injuries -- relevant for interventional radiology, especially--showed promising results using both intraarterial and intravenous tissue plasminogen activator to reduce amputation.

Radiologists describe coronavirus imaging features
In a special report published today in the journal Radiology, researchers describe CT imaging features that aid in the early detection and diagnosis of Wuhan coronavirus.

Nuclear radiologists 'outsmart' prostate cancer with an apparently ineffective drug
Patients with advanced metastatic prostate cancer often have few treatment options.

AI rivals expert radiologists at detecting brain hemorrhages
An algorithm developed by scientists at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley did better than two out of four expert radiologists at finding tiny brain hemorrhages in head scans -- an advance that one day may help doctors treat patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), strokes and aneurysms.

Combination of AI & radiologists more accurately identified breast cancer
An artificial intelligence (AI) tool accurately identified breast cancer when combined with analysis by radiologists.

Diagnostic radiologists with lifetime ABR certificates less likely to participate in MOC
An ahead-of-print article from AJR discovers lifetime-certified diagnostic radiologists whose Maintenance of Certification was not mandated by the American Board of Radiology were far less likely to participate in ABR MOC programs--especially general radiologists and those working in smaller, nonacademic practices in states with lower population densities 'Many opinions have been expressed regarding MOC in radiology, but there is actually very little public data on the matter,' says Andrew Rosenkrantz, ARRS Leonard Berlin Scholar.

AJR publishes gender affirmation surgery primer for radiologists
Since gender incongruence is now categorized as a sexual health condition, an ahead-of-print article published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) contends that all subspecialties must be prepared to identify radiologic correlates and distinguish key postoperative variations in the three major categories of gender affirmation surgery: genital reconstruction, body contouring, and maxillofacial contouring.

Read More: Radiologists News and Radiologists Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.