Teleradiology still has its skeptics, but Jason Wiesner, MD, medical director at teleRAS, the teleradiology arm of Radiological Associates of Sacramento, believes remote radiology can successfully integrate with top-notch medical teams. Wiesner is putting his theories into action thanks to a new partnership with the University of Arizona College of Medicine’s Tucson Department of Medical Imaging.
Seeds of the partnership were planted last year at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting where teleRAS had a booth. Wiesner happened to chat with the chair of the U of A radiology department, just as university heads were reevaluating their teleradiology options.
Wiesner ultimately formed the partnership with an understanding that communication would be essential. “The primary challenge I’m trying to tackle is to have a true collaboration between us—the remote radiologists—and the physicians in the emergency room,” he says. “We are trying to attack the problem through frequent phone calls for results. We are very accessible to ER physicians. With one phone call, and just a few seconds on the phone, they get directed immediately to a radiologist so we can talk over a case.”
If an ER resident-in-training wants to give a differential diagnosis and talk through patient issues, teleRAS radiologists are there. “We make ourselves accessible, and that is one way to close that milage gap,” says Wiesner. “We are extensions of the radiologists on the ground. We have had frequent in-person visits, so when it comes to the middle of the night and a stressful situation, they can trust us to give high quality reads.”
Wiesner hopes the U of A partnership will form a template for how to effectively evaluate and work with future clients. “We are getting great feedback from ER physicians,” he enthuses. “At the same time, we are totally invigorated by the partnership. We hope to use this model for our future expansion.”