The benefits and advantages that telecommunication and medical technologies bring to our world are great, and they help not only healthcare as a whole, but it also aids individual and specialty areas in delivering the best patient care.
Teleradiology is one of these specialty areas, where the electronic transmission of medical images, like a CT scan, MRI, or X-ray, are sent from one location to another, making them available for interpretation and consultation by radiologists not located in the region where the test was performed.
Using teleradiology, radiologists no longer need to be present within the same hospital, department, office, or, on an even larger scale, the same country with the patient. Instead, telecommunication technology can be used to send important medical data and images to specialists with no travel required.
In the past, radiological images were printed on hard films and physicians would need to be present to review them on the spot, or they would be sent from the test location to the specialist’s office for review. While this method helped eventually deliver the results that were intended, it was not done in a timely manner, and patients would often have to wait several hours or days before the results of their images could be received, as many radiologists specializing in areas like pediatrics or neurology are only stationed at a few select areas or hospitals around the country. This made meeting with patients in various locations very difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to do.
The current medical technologies within teleradiology allow healthcare providers to send digital files over a secure network like the Internet, to another department or office location almost instantaneously. Utilizing today’s high-resolution displays and monitors, physicians and specialists at the receiving location can pull up the file and send back a diagnosis and comments for the patient, without ever having to meet face-to-face. Plus, this technology allows specialists to access information 24/7, so there is essentially no delay in treatments, and consultations with other radiologists can be made outside of normal office hours .
Teleradiology and HIPAA Compliance
As with any information transferred over the Internet or other closed networks, maintaining privacy and patient confidentiality is often one of the biggest concerns. When it comes to the electronic transfer of information – including teleradiology – regulations in HIPAA have set the standards for maintaining patient privacy and protection of patient health records and data. As such, many of today’s top electronic health communications providers are secured over a private platform or software system that are 100% HIPAA compliant.
Though cloud computing has become an easy and virtually maintenance-free storage space for complex systems, it has not provided the security needed for important documents in the healthcare industry, as many services offered through a public cloud system fail to meet HIPPA guidelines.
For teleradiology providers, the most effective cloud solutions are built on a private platform that allows a single source to control all healthcare records and use encryption methods to protect patient information during the digital transmission.
Some teleradiology providers have found that the cloud-based system works best for storing and transmitting data, while others have steered clear of the cloud and opted instead for an independent software system. No matter which option is chosen by a medical provider, it is essential that the procedures and processes keep patient information safe and protected according to HIPAA.
Teleradiology eliminates the hassles and loss in time experienced with the old print method and helps healthcare providers practice more efficiently. The goal for all healthcare providers is to give the best patient care, and the use of teleradiology helps with this by giving patients the peace of mind they are looking for with access to a fast response and treatment plan.