European quality standards help improve teleradiology

March 5, 2004

A group of Austrian hospitals was able to refine its teleradiology processes and quality by implementing a European Union quality standard, according to a scientific presentation Friday. The Medical University of Insbruck has had teleradiology

A group of Austrian hospitals was able to refine its teleradiology processes and quality by implementing a European Union quality standard, according to a scientific presentation Friday.

The Medical University of Insbruck has had teleradiology operations since 1997, but it decided to apply the ISO-9001-2002 standard to the process, said Dr. Peter Soegner, a radiologist at University Hospital Innsbruck. That process was completed in December 2002.

A key goal of the effort was to provide assurances that teleradiology would produce a legally final emergency report within an hour of the study's completion, Soegner said.

The study presented Friday covered 930 examinations, of which 614 were for medical emergencies. Most of those (472) were brain CT scans, and 89% were provided in less than an hour with a median time of 43 minutes. Other emergency reads were lung CT (98 cases) and other CT (44 cases). The nonemergency interpretations involved teleconsulting and the exchange of studies. A virtual private network is used for request, written final report, and study transfer.

Applying the ISO process involved studying both the technical and human aspects of the teleradiology interpretation, Soegner said. The advantage is that it required structured training of the staff and documentation of processes. Both steps have helped assure better management of the processes and the avoidance of errors, he said.

The project was part of a larger ISO implementation effort that cost about EUR20,000. It was a lengthy process, lasting about two years, Soegner said.