Been to the emergency room lately? Had an X-ray or CT ordered? Chances are pretty good you didn’t meet the radiologist who read them. Chances are also pretty good that person has never stepped foot into the hospital.
More and more, radiologists are reviewing films from their desks – receiving the images from computer technology.
Today we received an article By: Jean DerGurahian/ HITS staff writer, about the trend and teleradiology industry, nicknamed “nighthawking” after one of the industry favorites, NightHawk Radiology.
According to the article:
“”Nighthawking services” have grown in the past decade into a $3 billion to $5 billion industry, as technology improves and makes reading images from remote locations easier and more efficient. About half of all U.S. hospitals use teleradiologists, who are trained and credentialed in this country before moving to overseas offices, from which they e-mail, fax or phone results. Hospitals pay the outsourced radiologists directly, typically between $50 and $70 for each read; in-house staff bill patients and insurers according to coded rates.
Radiologists are alarmed at how smoothly nighthawks have been able to grab hospitals’ attention.
Although basic economic principles drive consumers to seek out the best quality for the lowest costs,
nighthawks are a contentious issue among radiologists who insist that teleradiology is a threat to patients.
Besides competitive pricing, teleradiologists offer something else: the ability for radiologists to sleep through the night without being called in after-hours to read emergency scans.
This doesn’t sit well with some who believe that the bottom line, and not patient safety or quality, drive teleradiology. Nighthawking businesses were not started for the patients, Modic said. “We did it so we can sleep.”
WOW – I admire and respect that need… but in our local hospital, recently scans at 5:15 pm, have been sent across the country to be read – that wasn’t because of the time… rather cost I imagine.. and nothing beats having the opportunity to speak to the treating physician about the patient, reviewing old records, scans etc – and that personal review of films…
Too bad the health care industry is getting away from direct care.. isn’t it?