William Pan

Five facts about mobile diagnostic reading in radiology

April 02, 2020
By William Pan

The COVID-19 pandemic is stimulating many conversations about telemedicine and what might be in the offing. The fact is that remote reading of radiology images is already a reality and gaining momentum with highly portable, FDA approved reading devices. The potential benefits for radiology remote reading is substantial from changing the way radiologists work and providing significant savings on the costs, to providing hospitals and healthcare organizations a larger pool of highly qualified radiologists to handle their imaging interpretation and diagnostic needs.

When one goes about introducing a new technology to change to long-established methodologies, it’s easy to dredge up the maxim, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But when it comes to healthcare, not being broken isn’t the same improving the latest and best method- continuously. That’s where mobile diagnostic reading comes in to meet those needs. Here are the five facts you should know about where the how remote reading can revolutionize radiology:

1. Remote diagnosis is now a possibility
For some years, radiologists had the ability to review imaging studies remote, but were not cleared to concurrently diagnose. With the improvements to screen resolutions and the introduction and Class II FDA clearance of Rad@, remote diagnosis is not only approved but being embraced.* This breakthrough is now ushering in a new era for radiologists and the clinics, institutions and patients they serve.

2. Increased productivity
With the proliferation of personal mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, clinicians can access at their fingertips, in mere moments, more knowledge than was housed in the grandest libraries of centuries ago, or physical libraries existing today. Most know how to work with technology to find answers, communicate via text and email or even to make the increasingly rare phone call. But untethering radiologists to read studies and provide diagnosis anywhere and at any time is one of the most significant productivity developments in healthcare in recent history. Now radiologists can dictate radiological exams without having to be at a PACS workstation and with a multiplying effect. This can drive profitability, enhance throughput and opening up capacity to name a few benefits.

3. Decreased costs
The medium on which this remote reading is done also translates to reduced costs since a pair of iPad Pros costs a fraction of a traditional PACS workstations. The average PACS workstation with a pair of three mega pixel diagnostic monitors is approximately $8,000. By contrast, with roughly $1,200 cost for remote reading software and iPad Pros are $800, costs are reduced by up to two-thirds. Vendor neutrality drives the savings calculus even further.

4. Enhanced job satisfaction, reduced burn out, better collaboration
The option of reading for different hospitals and imaging centers- from the comfort of their home office if they so choose, enables radiologists to cut down onsite days. High cost urban centers can push clinicians further from the center creating long commutes contributing to job dissatisfaction, burnout and turnover. Remote reading from a home office can, for the first time, address this problem and also enable more collaborate with colleagues inside or outside of the physical hospital location.

5. All In one viewer, display and server aboard iPad Pro
Recent advancements in remote reading have progressed since the FDA approved remote reading and diagnostics. A new, iOS-based mobile display solution has been introduced converting iPad Pro into a standalone viewer, display, and server- all in one through a UDE (Ubiquitous Diagnostic Environment) application. This integrates AI, an extendable reporting system, and medical image data from a PACS server or modality can be directly transmitted to an iPad Pro via DICOM communication for display and storage. A user, while away from traditional a workstation, can create a compact mobile workstation by deploying the UDE App to a pair of iPad Pros with a laptop and leverage its viewer mode function. The advancement of this versatile application facilitates communication of clinical information and overcomes traditional workstation barriers for the best possible outcome.

The pace of change in this area of radiology is astounding. Rather than threatening radiologists, it’s offering them greater range of work possibilities that enhance their professional and personal lives. That includes allowing them to work longer and with greater professional satisfaction, and to live and work where they want, and even when. The most conservative traditionalist among us in the field would have to agree that this is a revolution they can live with, and thrive in.

* Use of Rad@ for Mammography is strictly “Review Only” in the United States

About the author: William Pan is CEO of EBM Technologies