Who‰Ûªs Reading Your Scan?

I am sure you have heard of radiologists in Australia reading the scans you had today at your hospital or imaging center. The upsurge in imaging studies, demand for fast turnaround and a shortage of radiologists has prompted this. For some that spells opportunity.

Telerays, a Houston company, has started an eBay type service in which radiologists can bid on reading imaging studies. Lowest bidder wins the contract, downloads the cases and uploads the report. The marketing angle is that this will cuts costs for hospitals and imaging centers and allow swamped radiologists to pick and choose what they want.

As one physician noted, all the incentives are economic. Where is the quality control? Even if you assume that quality across the board is equal, some fear that radiologists will see their prices lowered so much that it will force them to take on too much work just to even what they may have made before doing fewer scans. So they question whether the radiologist will be able to provide the type of quality and thoroughness for each scan.

When is the last time you saw a radiologist actually come out and speak with you after reading a scan? This will further remove them from patient contact. In an earlier blog I mentioned how some are experimenting with including patient pictures with the scan so that radiologists actually remember these are human beings they are reporting on.

So bottom line is that healthcare entities need to be transparent in letting people know who is reading their scans. And patients need to ask.