NHS Glasgow and Clyde is using partnership and co-operation to transform its radiology service with a teleradiology model tailored to its own needs.
Teleradiology will connect radiologists like never before
At NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Director of Diagnostics Aileen MacLennan firmly believes that teleradiology is one of the key tools tackling the pressure on NHS radiology services.
MacLennan says: “Teleradiology is a vital tool in delivering care. Done well it enables expert opinions to be delivered by radiologists who do not need to be in the same location, or indeed the same country.
“Demand for radiology services is growing and often many different scans are requested in a short timeframe, so we need to make maximum use of technology, while ensuring clinical quality standards are maintained and appropriately-trained staff produce reports as swiftly as possible to ensure best care of our patients”.
Specialists in radiology will not be location bound
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde now uses teleradiology throughout its Health Board area. The Imaging departments have introduced a series of initiatives to create a bespoke services maximising the use of currently available technology to deliver inpatient acute imaging services in a short frame. The technology also helps the imaging departments on the non acute patient access targets in Scotland.
MacLennan says: “We operate an enhanced radiology opinion/reporting service, based in hubs at the site of super-hospitals such as the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, staffed by our own radiologists and trainees working in the evenings and at weekends.
The workload is shared across the city hospitals and in the evenings the hub at Glasgow Royal Infirmary acts as a central reporting room.
The consultant radiologists are rostered onto hub shifts as do the Radiology trainees. “It means that hospital speciality doctors can liaise with radiologists within the same specialty.
Tele-radiology will become commonplace in the next few years
The radiology service is now dependent on teleradiology MacLennan says: “We have standard protocols and parameters for imaging and reporting so everyone involved knows what is required from Imaging for patients across the Health board area. Once images and reports are obtained through teleradiology we can if required use teleconferencing to allow all of the medical specialists involved with the patient to view the report and images at the same time and discuss the diagnosis if this is required.
The teleradiology systems combined with a dedicated Radiology service results in faster diagnosis and treatment and second and third opinions can also be obtained more quickly.
In the future, MacLennan expects more developments in the teleradiology service. She says: “We plan to start using virtual hubs, enabling radiologists to work from home, and software allowing reports to be voice to text by radiologists, making them faster to produce. Within the next few years we will be working in a different way than in the past.”