A tornado rips through a rural community and the local hospital is overwhelmed with injured residents. A ten-car pile up in the middle of the night on a major highway stretches the resources of emergency doctors to diagnose and treat the victims.
The use of teleradiology services to facilitate image reading during off-hours and provide supplemental support for surge events is nothing new. The American College of Radiology delivered a major task force report on the practice back in 2013 but economic and security concerns surrounding remote reading has plagued the industry ever since.
But today, a managed service provider, a western-Massachusetts regional health system, and an independent radiology practice may have come up with an answer.
Radiology and Imaging (R&I), which supplies radiologists to Baystate Health System in western Massachusetts, has teamed with MSP baytechIT to develop a remote reading solution using Baystate’s virtualized desktop infrastructure for less than $500 per workstation. The package, which includes a hosted virtualized desktop, two 2-megapixel monitors, a zero-client terminal, and associated peripherals, is being installed in the homes of R&I radiologists throughout the country. BaytechIT will provide annual calibration, certification, and remote support but because the solution is VDI-based and all images and data remain within the Baystate Health datacenter, the solution is deemed HIPAA-certified and secure.
Dr. Kal Dulaimy of R&I, and Myles Angell, the former Director of SaaS for Radisphere National Radiology Group and now an Executive Project Officer with healthcare IT consultancy VertitechIT, recently sat down to talk about the new VDI-based teleradiology approach.
Explain what R&I is and its relationship to Baystate.
Dr. Kal Dulaimy: Radiology and Imaging is an independent practice of 40+ radiologists serving the Baystate Health System in western Massachusetts. We provide almost all the radiology reading services for the health system which serves over a million patients a year.
What was the genesis of the idea to provide teleradiology capability for your practice?
Kal: We wanted to duplicate as much as possible at home, the work environment our radiologists experience in the office.
Myles Angell: It’s similar in purpose to what we put in place at Radisphere years ago, as a teleradiology solution for radiologists to read from their homes all over the country.
The biggest difference here is the use of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
Myles: One of the major drawbacks to our solution was that we were deploying dedicated hardware and those devices had to be maintained. Remote support services worked well but when a radiologist had an outage, the time it took to troubleshoot, send out, and set up a replacement device was very challenging and expensive. The VDI solution is fairly inexpensive and if it fails, that’s a quick ship of a monitor or simple component without a lot of necessary diagnostics or customization.
Kal: Yes. Everyone gets the same experience with VDI, it’s persistent in the Baystate datacenter and they can put advance threat level detection and other protections around the device such that you don’t have the same exposure.
And with teleradiology, security is always of utmost concern. It’s different with this solution because you’re essentially dealing in pixels instead of data, correct?
Myles: When you have a radiologist’s working on a computer, the images are HIPAA protected and in some fashion, local to their desktop. In order to have the fastest viewing times the images are cached on the machine. If that physical computer is stolen or compromised, we’ve got some serious exposure.
Kal: With VDI, nothing is downloaded or stored. The moment they log off of the machine, all of the images are gone. There is no PHI to deal with. It is just pixels on a screen.
Integration is key too?
Kal: Absolutely. We are fully integrated through VDI with Radnet, with the Powerscribe reporting platform, with Cerner, with our PACS, and just recently, our Vitrea 3D visualization tool.
Baystate Health has a hyperconverged infrastructure built upon a software defined datacenter. Will a VDI-based teleradiology solution work elsewhere?
Myles: Having the appropriate type of VDI environment is important. HCI has proven time and time again to be the more cost-effective way to do it. You don’t need huge storage. You need computing power and need it to be very wide and distributed. HCI and VDI address the economic side of the equation better.
Has technology advanced to the point where you can duplicate the quality of radiology services between a hospital and home setting?
Kal: With this solution, we’ve created a virtual remote reading office that duplicates the hospital environment. And we’ve extended the availability of our radiologists to respond to surge events when supplemental support is required in a safe and secure fashion.
A just-released research study entitled, “Teleradiology Market by Modality – Global Industry Analysis and Forecast To 2025” published by Crystal Market Research, forecasts the teleradiology market to be a $10 billion industry by 2025. This new virtualized solution could push those numbers even higher.
For further information on VDI-based teleradiology solutions, contact baytechIT via email at email@example.com.