The Big Picture: Teleradiology must bolster relationships

August 1, 1999

The Big Picture:Teleradiology must bolster relationshipsBy Erik L. Ridley, EditorWhen teleradiology services provider TeleQuest was launched in 1994, it appeared to have all the necessary ingredients for market success. By signing on with

The Big Picture:
Teleradiology must bolster relationships

By Erik L. Ridley, Editor

When teleradiology services provider TeleQuest was launched in 1994, it appeared to have all the necessary ingredients for market success. By signing on with TeleQuest, hospitals and imaging centers could access subspecialty expertise via teleradiology at some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.

The concept sounded like a sure winner, but it hasn’t been the runaway hit some market pundits and early TeleQuest executives predicted. Local radiologists were understandably not thrilled about the prospect of losing lucrative reading responsibilities, and some alleged that national teleradiology overread networks like TeleQuest were unethical.

TeleQuest is not without its fans, however. In fact, its oldest and largest client, Wendt-Bristol Health System, announced last month that it would acquire up to a 40% equity position in TeleQuest (see story, page 4). Wendt-Bristol cited its strong relationship as a key reason for its investment.

Wendt-Bristol will assume management of TeleQuest, and plans a sales and marketing shift toward smaller hospitals and imaging centers, as well as an expansion of its services. It’s too early to tell, of course, if this strategy will pan out.

But one problem TeleQuest will need to overcome is the power of interpersonal relationships between radiologists and referring physicians. Despite the qualifications of the long-distance radiologists, many healthcare institutions remain reluctant to turn over reading responsibilities to radiologists they don’t know and aren’t comfortable with.