Teleradiology may mean fewer distractions for the practioner, but the technology can create a barrier between radiologists and their patients, a recent commentary published in Diagnostic Imaging argues.
According to Mark Klein, a radiologist with Washington (D.C.) Radiology Associates, many patients do not see remote radiologists as physicians because they don't examine and treat patients and aren't available to answer patients' questions. Those are "the benchmarks patients and other physicians most often employ to determine of someone is a ‘real doctor,'" he writes in the commentary.
Klein takes issue with a blog series--also published in Diagnostic Imaging--by fellow radiologist Eric Postal, in which Postal argues that being physically disconnected from other providers minimizes distractions, ultimately increasing productivity.
"I understand that a radiologist can read studies faster with all distractions eliminated," Klein writes. "Many would add that a radiologist can read more accurately when not interrupted. That would seem logical, except it ignores the fact that the patient is most often the best source of information about his or her disease."
What's more, while teleradiology may be a growing practice, hospitals can improve patient care and their bottom lines with their own on-site radiology departments, a study published last fall in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found.
"If the hospital allows its radiology department to become fragmented by the intrusion of other specialists or teleradiology companies in remote locations, most of these added values would be lost, and chaos could ensue," the study's authors said.
Tablets and smartphones, however, could serve to level the playing field in terms of patient-centered care by teleradiologists, FierceMobileHealthcare recently reported.