Telemedicine and Teleradiology
Having presented the topics of image data management and Web-based PACS in Chapter 14, we can now logically turn to discussing teleradiology. Web-based PACS leads us from the PACS environment and toward image distribution outside of the enclosed hospital environment. Teleradiology is practicing radiology service outside of the hospital. Figure 15.1 (excerpted from Figure 1.3) shows how this chapter corresponds to the contents of Part III.
Telemedicine and teleradiology are becoming increasingly important as the U.S. healthcare delivery system gradually changes from fee-for-service to managed capitated care. Over the past ten years we have seen a trend of primary care physicians joining health maintenance organizations (HMOs). HMOs purchase smaller hospitals and form hospital groups under the umbrella of HMOs. Also academic institutions form consortia to compete with other local hospitals and HMOs. This consolidation allows the elimination of duplication and the streamlining of healthcare services among hospitals. As a result costs are reduced, but at the same time because of the downsizing, the number of experts available for service decreases. Utilization of telemedicine and teleradiology is a cost-saving method that also compensates for the loss of expertise.
One of the most comprehensive reviews in assessing telecommunications in healthcare was a study reported by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Evaluating Clinical ...