The Benefits of Electronic Image Sharing for Radiologic Technologists

Posted by Phil Jackson on Dec 23, 2016 3:37:24 PM

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Radiologic technologists, or "rad techs" as they are often called, play a key role in the medical imaging supply chain, and they are often the people within the practice who take a hands-on, active role with the technology. They're also responsible for making sure medical imaging is of a high quality, and that it arrives in the correct hands. Recent technology advancements have improved their ability to share medical imaging electronically, greatly improving their workflow.

So how has this process improved and how are radiologic technologists taking advantage of electronic image sharing?

What Do Radiologic Technologists Do?

Let's start by explaining the responsibilities of a rad tech. These individuals are responsible for operating medical imaging equipment, acquiring diagnostic medical images and sending the images to the diagnosing physician. Often, they specialize in a particular subfield of medical imaging, such as CT scans, MRIs, mammography or bone densitometry.

Being a radiologic technologist requires expert knowledge about anatomy, radiation and imaging equipment. Other aspects of the job include interacting with patients, answering patient questions, maintaining equipment and collaborating with other medical professionals.

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Why Are They Important?

In an outpatient imaging environment, such as a radiology practice or a hospital, the bottom line is efficiency, as well as how that efficiency can be maximized in order to increase revenue. All of the technology systems in place in the medical imaging supply chain have an impact on productivity. So if these systems aren't running smoothly, the entire process breaks down.

Because rad techs take such a hands-on role and are responsible for distributing medical images, they tend to assume the role of practice administrator. As such, they frequently assume a decision-making position within the practice.

They are often responsible for determining what technology to procure and how to enhance that technology in order to improve the radiology workflow.

Why Electronic Image Sharing is Improving Workflow

Within a practice, it is typically the radiologic technologists who are responsible for ensuring that patients have access to their medical images. The traditional way of sending medical images to patients is by burning them onto a CD and delivering them in person or through the mail.

However, this method has several drawbacks. Unless they are protected by a password or encrypted, the images are not secure and can be seen by anyone with access to the CD. Encryption, however, leads to other workflow problems as the receiving party must deal with decrypting the images which many physicians may see as more hassle than its worth. In addition, the CD can be lost, and sharing the images requires burning them onto another CD, which only increases the chances of them falling into the wrong hands. The insecurity involved in using CDs increases the risk of a damaging HIPAA violation.

Savvy rad techs have now discovered that they can save time and effort by sharing medical images with patients and physicians electronically. Besides being more secure, this method allows the images to be shared with exactly those people who need access to them, without the inconvenience of making extra copies. This has only become possible through cloud PACS technology. By leveraging a cloud PACS, radiologic technologists are able to share medical images electronically with patients and avoid the headaches and inefficiencies associated with burning CDs.

Final Thought

As their name implies, radiologic technologists rely on technology to get their work done. But, in order to perform their duties to the fullest and maximize their efficiency, they need to carefully consider the tools that they use and the impact on their daily workflow.

All medical professionals need to remain constantly open-minded as new technologies and modalities emerge. They should evaluate the latest developments as they arrive and be willing to embrace and experiment with new ideas and innovations that can benefit their practice.

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Topics: Image sharing, radiology, PACS

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