In 1625 Francis Bacon penned the words: “If the mountain will not come to Muhammud, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Although radiology did not exist back then, Bacon might have been describing the practice of radiology since its inception. The size and weight of traditional modalities were truly unmovable mountains of technology, causing radiology practices to be fixed in immovable bricks and mortar locations.
A lot has changed in the past few years with regard to mobility. The size and portability of many types of modalities now enable the enterprising radiologist to bring that mountain to the patient. This increases accessibility for patients requiring scans who are less mobile. It also benefits institutions that require modalities for temporary periods or simply need a method for more conveniently serving other patients.
A Revolution in Radiology
Some might expect a mobile radiology business model to be less efficient than one based in a fixed location. With increased travel time, there will certainly be less utilization of each piece of expensive equipment. There are also concerns about quality and patient experience, which are valid, but when done properly efficiency and quality are not an issue.
We work with a radiologist who has an interesting business model. Working with a team of radiology technicians in the field, each morning they go out in their vans with their mobile modalities and service a set of less than mobile patients. Utilizing cloud-based imaging software, they upload the images (either using a mobile hot spot from the patients' location or when they return to their home base at the end of the day) and record detailed notes about the scan and their initial findings.
Once the uploads are completed, the radiologist logs into the same cloud and reviews the online notes and scans, and generates a diagnostic report often automatically transferring portions of the radiology technician’s notes, to expedite reporting. These diagnostic reports are then shared with the patient and/or their referring physician electronically.
By leveraging a team of radiology technicians in the field, and utilizing a system that makes diagnostic and reporting work that much more efficient, this model is quite scalable. Our client plans to add additional radiology technicians and mobile modalities in the future to expand even further.
Is Mobile Radiology Right for You?
Typically, the locations chosen for these mobile modalities are higher-density less mobile patients, like nursing homes or long-term care. However, there are also opportunities to utilize these devices in support of practices that would prefer not to invest in expensive modalities or with practices that have overflow needs of patients sporadically, or those that are in the process of changing out or acquiring new modalities, while they are waiting for these to be installed.
Mobile modalities today extend well beyond x-rays and ultrasound. They now include mobile CT scanners like the Vimago from Epica or Hyperfine’s new Swoop MRI. All can be part of a mobile solution for the enterprising radiology practice.