by Lauren Dubinsky
, Senior Reporter | June 25, 2018
From the June 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
For many smaller radiology clinics, or those in rural areas, having staff on hand 24/7 to read imaging reports is a luxury they simply can’t afford.
Fortunately, with digital images and internet connectivity, an interpreter for those late night scans can be just a click away.
“We have great subspecialty expertise during the day, but it’s hard to replicate it 24/7,” said Dr. Ricardo Cury, chairman and CEO of Radiology Associates of South Florida (RASF), a private practice group that partners with a teleradiology provider called vRad to address the issue.
Both RASF and vRad are owned by MEDNAX, a Florida-based national health solutions company with a focus on specialists.
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“[Now] we are able to have dedicated neurology radiologists, body imagers, musculoskeletal physicians and pediatric radiologists,” said Cury.
With multiple locations, RASF is able to leverage its teleradiology workstations so that its providers in one facility can ensure subspecialty services at another. Using this approach, its radiologists in Miami are supporting the team at a new location in Naples.
“When you have a small [practice], it’s hard to have all specialties,” said Cury. “That is where the Miami radiologists are able to add value to the Naples practice.”
With 540 teleradiologists in all 50 states interpreting scans for approximately 2,100 facilities nationwide, vRad is responsible for roughly 6.5 million reads per year.
“The most common relief valve for the rural radiologist is the after-hours call coverage component – i.e. emergency radiology,” said Kent Thomas, vice president of business development at vRad. “We will cover the after-hours component for them, which allows them to focus more on the daytime reads and staff more efficiently.”
With 20 to 25 teleradiologists covering 15 states, Argus Radiology is a comparatively small teleradiology provider, but the company views its size as an asset in building stronger relationships with its clients.
“Our business model is supporting other radiology groups when they are not able to get to those rural hospitals that are under their contract or [providing] after-hours [reads] for groups that have problems hiring new radiologists because they don’t want to work overnight,” said Todd M. Moritz, director of new business development at Argus.
Another longstanding leader in teleradiology is ONRAD, which traces its roots back to 1998. (vRad was founded in 2001 and Argus in 2009.)
Partnering with a teleradiology provider means eliminating concerns for continuing education or staffing shortages from sick time or vacation, said Anthony Freire, ONRAD’s chief operating officer. His company staffs about 43 teleradiologists who can fill scan interpreting needs for facilities that don’t have enough patient volume to justify the high cost of an on-site radiologist.