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5 things we like best about teleradiology

By: Lifetrack Medical Systems with Mari Grace Lee, MD, DPBR; Michael Pineda, MD, FPCR; Jacqueline Austine Uy, MD, FPCR, FCTMRI

On September 12, Lifetrack Medical Systems and the Philippine College of Radiology - National Capital Region chapter, co-hosted a webinar around the theme of “Work-Life Balance During COVID”. One of the sessions was a panel on “Teleradiology for Work-Life Balance” and the article below features highlights of the discussion.

The aspiration for work-life balance

They say radiologists have one of the best odds in achieving work-life balance in the medical field. Maybe a lot of you would have contested this statement in the early days—with practitioners needing to be on-site to read case studies or some being on-call during ungodly hours if they are reading cases for the emergency room.

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Can teleradiology help with work-life balance?

Nowadays, with the advent of teleradiology, radiologists are seeing that there may be truth to that statement—work-life balance is achievable.

You may think that teleradiology only happens outside of the Philippines and that this is just true for foreign practices but in a recently-held webinar for Philippine radiologists, we were able to speak with three radiologists who have been practicing teleradiology for quite some time.

When asked about what they liked best about teleradiology, here’s what they had to say.

DR. PINEDA: Teleradiology saves me time. Reading cases is made more convenient as I do it anytime and anywhere. I have this dream of being able to read cases even while I’m on the beach.

In today’s time and with the push for teleradiology, we are now closer to this dream more than ever. Teleradiology allows radiologists to read cases from the comfort of their own homes or in some other remote location, a beach even! You don’t need to spend hours in traffic going to and from one hospital to another, only to read a few cases because you have to go to your next clinic. Teleradiology allows you to manage your time better, reviewing cases whenever you can, wherever you are.

DR. PINEDA: It also makes me feel safe. There’s less risk of exposure to people with COVID-19.

Beyond convenience, I’m relieved that teleradiology gives me the option to work from home. I don’t have to worry about increasing my exposure to COVID-19.

If you live with family or anyone with comorbidity, being able to work remotely also helps lower their risk of being exposed to the virus.

DR. UY: Teleradiology allows me to continue my work and read cases despite the pandemic.

Patients now have this fear of going to hospitals for exams and consultations, affecting everyone’s business including radiologists. Studies may have decreased or are just starting to recover but thanks to teleradiology, I can continue to perform my work and somehow recover a portion of the volume that was lost.

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DR. LEE: The great thing about teleradiology is it gives me more time with my loved ones.

As a full-time mom and radiologist, I have been busy in the house now more than ever. My husband now works from home and my kid attends online classes. With teleradiology, I can do my job and take care of the household without having to sacrifice time. Working remotely also gave me more time to bond with my family, whether it’s exercising together or bingeing on a TV series.

DR. PINEDA: Lastly, it allows me to reach even patients from far-flung areas since I don’t have to be on-site.

Some parts of the country, especially the remote areas, don’t often get the best access to medical imaging. More than a lack of equipment, it’s the scarcity of radiologists that affect this. In the Philippines, the ratio is roughly 1 radiologist for every 100,000 people in the population.

Teleradiology helps me address this scarcity as I don’t have to be physically on-site to read patient studies.

The future looks promising for teleradiology

COVID-19 has pushed most institutions to embark on or speed up their digital transformation. We now hear terms like telemedicine and teleradiology more often. With this push and with the advantages that we’ve seen, the best time to learn and invest resources in teleradiology may be now.

Read the next article - Mental Wellness for Radiologists in the time of COVID-19 [Top 10 TIPS]

About the Authors:

Mari Grace Lee, MD, DPBR; Michael Pineda, MD, FPCR; and Jacqueline Austine Uy, MD, FPCR, FCTMRI were featured as panelists in the Philippine College of Radiology - National Capital Region chapter’s inaugural webinar, “Be Well, Do Well - Helping Radiologists Survive and Thrive Despite COVID-19”.