Struggles and triumphs in radiology’s COVID-19 era

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | November 30, 2020
From the November 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“If people are wearing masks, social distancing and appropriately screened coming in, we can get back to some semblance of normalcy,” said Krishnaraj. “Medical imaging could be achieved safely if people practice those precautions.”

ACR is also working to educate patients on the safety of hospitals at this time and the consequences of not undergoing needed imaging exams, especially screening mammography.

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According to a recent study published in Science, an estimated 35,000 breast cancer diagnoses could be delayed, potentially resulting in over 5,200 more deaths in the U.S. over the next decade. ACR is urging women over age 40 to schedule yearly mammograms that were postponed due to the pandemic.

At UVA Health, outreach efforts paid off as more patients started coming in for imaging exams in mid-to-late June.

Radiologists can work from home too
The pandemic has resulted in many professionals working remotely, and this trend has impacted healthcare too. While the value of telemedicine is becoming clearer than ever, radiologists are particularly well suited to interpret images from home.

“I think this is a trend that we're seeing everywhere in healthcare and outside of healthcare,” said Siegel. “The same way that people are not going into their offices in Manhattan to do the work that they're doing in the financial sector, I think we're starting to see more of a trend to not go into the hospital unless there are procedures that are being done or a particular reason to go in.”

In the past, many facilities refrained from having radiologists work remotely because of privacy and security concerns and bandwidth issues. But the pandemic forced the situation and many more radiologists are now interpreting from workstations in their homes.

He believes this is a trend that will continue even after COVID-19 is no longer a concern. One of the biggest benefits is the time saved that would have been spent on commuting to and from the facility.

Remote interpretation also allows for more of a lifestyle balance. Radiologists with children are finding that virtual education requires much more parental involvement during the day and they are able to provide that if they are working from home.

“There's always been hesitation to make that paradigm shift,” said Siegel. “Now that it's happened and people realize that one can still provide high-quality care, they'll provide the performance that's required. I think that there's going to be a much higher percentage of radiologists who are reading from home rather than reading at the office.”

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