Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Penn State Health today announced a new collaboration in which Penn State Health Medical Group’s Radiology Services is providing imaging study reading and interpretation support to AHN’s Imaging Institute.
“AHN is experiencing significant growth in patient care encounters, and we are exploring every potential resource to ensure we are able to provide timely, high-quality imaging services to those in need,” said Dr. Jeffrey Mueller, system vice chair of Imaging Institute and division head of chest imaging for AHN.
At the same time AHN’s Imaging Institute leadership was actively exploring potential solutions to its increasing patient demand, Penn State Health Medical Group’s radiology division was looking to expand the reach of its services through partnerships with other health care providers.
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“Our team of talented, qualified radiologists had capacity to assist other programs outside of our existing book of work, and we are excited to collaborate with AHN in this manner,” said Dr. Mark Labuski, radiology service line medical director, Penn State Health Medical Group.
Thanks to advanced technological capabilities that enable imaging studies to be read and interpreted remotely, the distance that separates the Penn State Health radiologists from AHN’s facilities poses no obstacle to the collaboration, Mueller said. By the early 2000s, most medical imaging had transitioned from analog film to computer radiography, which paved the way to direct digital radiography in 2007. This development has prompted many hospitals to contract with remote read services to augment their own radiology programs and staff, especially on overnight shifts.
Most hospitals and health systems today outsource the reading of their imaging studies to some degree.
The number of Penn State Health radiologists currently reading remotely for AHN varies daily, depending on the needs across the network, Mueller said. “Presently, it’s between one and three each day, but as new AHN imaging centers open and the demand for reading and interpreting studies increases, we’ll be turning to our Penn State Health colleagues to help manage the workflow,” he added.
That flexibility to adjust the number of reading radiologists to a fluctuating demand is just one of the elements that make the partnership ideal, Mueller said. Both the Penn State Health and AHN imaging teams are comprised of general radiologists as well as a full complement of radiology subspecialists, including those who are fellowship trained in neurology, breast, cardiothoracic, interventional and nuclear medicine.
“That means if AHN is in need of additional support for neuroradiology readings in their stroke program, for example, we can fill that need and patient care is seamless,” Labuski said.
“For me, that’s great peace of mind,” Mueller said.
Most importantly, though, are the priorities shared by both groups. “We are totally aligned in our values, and mission to provide efficient, high-quality care for patients,” Mueller said.