RSNA coverage: RIS can assist teleradiology reads

January 7, 2002

As the use of teleradiology increases, so does the difficulty in managing the demographic data that accompanies remotely read imaging studies. A teleradiology RIS developed at Massachusetts General Hospital provides a solution that cut report turnaround

As the use of teleradiology increases, so does the difficulty in managing the demographic data that accompanies remotely read imaging studies. A teleradiology RIS developed at Massachusetts General Hospital provides a solution that cut report turnaround time in half.

"Teleradiology services provided to off-site clients frequently involve an incompatible or nonexisting RIS," said Dr. Giles Boland, director of teleradiology at MGH.

Typically, teleradiologic data management involves a paper trail that is inefficient and cumbersome to manage. The MGH teleradiology information management system (TIMS) facilitates patient tracking, speeds turnaround, and reduces errors.

The system incorporates three components:

?client
?interpreting radiologist
?teleradiology operations team

The client enters all patient demographics online, including read priority. This permits the creation of a secure work list accessible by the subspecialty radiologist, Boland said.

TIMS provides the usual features, including database access to prior reports. Using voice recognition, radiologists can dictate cases with unique identifier numbers provided by the system. The report is automatically e-mailed back to the client.

With TIMS, MGH report turnaround time fell from 32 hours to 15 hours, and patient demographic errors have been virtually eliminated, Boland said.

"Teleradiology workflow has been simplified with all data - including requisition, interpretation, and reporting - now provided electronically to the radiologist," he said. "Paper has been eliminated."

The system proved useful when the department established a teleradiology link to London.

The department needed to maintain its neuroradiology volume when one of its subspecialists took a one-year sabbatical in London. The solution was a secure, high-bandwidth T1 connection to the subspecialist's home for real-time interpretation of images.

About 22 MRIs are sent to her each day, each one arriving in about five minutes, Boland said. Patient requisitions are received via e-mail, and dictation is via voice recognition. Reports are automatically returned to the Boston server, where they are uploaded into TIMS and e-mailed to clients.

"In this way we are able to maintain the 24-hour turnaround of reports as required by teleradiology contracts," Boland said.