Staying Healthy During A Pandemic: Telehealth and Radiology
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, it’s forcing many of the sectors of the economy to go remote, including the medical industry. As a result, telemedicine has experienced a boom, as doctors and patients use the power of the internet to stay up to date on their health.
In radiology, the importance of staying up-to-date on screenings means that telemedicine and teleradiology are now more important than ever before. In our latest blog, we discuss teleradiology, it’s heightened importance, and what you need to know for your personal health.
Telemedicine & Teleradiology’s Early Rise In The Medical Sphere
We’ll begin our analysis with a brief recap of the history of telemedicine and teleradiology. Beginning in the early 1900s, the prominence of the radio began to open up other possibilities in sectors of the government, including medicine.
Beginning in the 40s, however, telemedicine would start to catch on with the first transfers of radiology images across telephone lines. During the 40s and 50s, the infrastructure to support these transfers of images would be built across hospitals and universities, culminating in a two-way television transmission system for medical students at the University of Nebraska.
The 60s and 70s saw a major influx of support from government agencies to perfect telemedicine and teleradiology, including the Public Health Department, the Department of Defense, and NASA, among others. Rural communities also invested what they could in the technology, given how far some residents lived from the nearest doctor.
Today, telemedicine and teleradiology are leaps and bounds above where they started. Medical images can be shared near-instantly, and the results can be discussed remotely between medical professionals and their patients. Technology has helped close the gap of care between those who are advantaged and disadvantaged, as well as continuing to help those in need.
Telemedicine & COVID-19: How The Industry Is Adapting
As you could likely expect, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in telemedicine and teleradiology needs. Millions of Americans that had otherwise had access to a physical clinic are now searching for electronic services, with several companies beginning to oblige. Companies like Amwell, Doctor On Demand, Teladoc, and more are using the crisis to connect more people to doctors remotely, rather than in physical offices.
In the field of radiology, however, telemedicine has already become a huge hit. According to a 2018 study by the American Medical Association, 39.5% of radiologists reported using telemedicine in their practice, with that number likely higher during the pandemic. Given how important radiology is to millions of people, it’s no wonder that radiologists use telemedicine at such a high rate.
As much as telemedicine is utilized in radiology, there is still a need for in-person meetings to actually conduct tests and exams. In countries like the UK, for example, chest X-rays are administered to anyone in an emergency room suspected of having COVID-19. In these instances, radiologists have to fall back on proper planning, sanitation, and PPE to stay safe. There is preliminary evidence that X-rays may miss some signs of coronavirus that are caught on CT scans, further entrenching radiologists and imaging technicians in the front lines of this crisis. Finally, there seems to be some overlap in the imaging of COVID-19, SARS, and MERS, giving radiologists a point of reference for potential coronavirus patients.
Sterilization has also become a huge point of emphasis for radiologists. Given that some equipment (like CT) needs some physical contact, radiologists are needing to make sterilization of equipment an even more crucial step. At Professional Radiology, we’ve taken extra measures to ensure that our patients and staff are practicing safe sanitation and social distancing. Across the globe, radiologists are trying to stem the tide of this pandemic using extreme sanitation and care.
Why You Should Continue Your Screenings & Exams
Given how quickly this virus has spread, it can be tempting to simply stop seeing your doctors and radiologist for the duration of the crisis. However, refraining from getting regular check-ups could put you at risk for other ailments that you would not be privy to otherwise. Radiology can detect cancer, trauma, cardiovascular/musculoskeletal diseases, metabolic diseases, neurosurgical diseases, and much more. Putting off your screenings can put you at risk, so it’s incredibly important that you continue your screenings.
If you currently do suffer from a disease or condition, radiology can accurately map changes to your body, and relay those images and results to your doctor. From there, your doctor can make informed decisions about your health. Without proper screenings and exams, doctors can be severely limited in their information. In our imaging center and in many others, telemedicine has become an embraced tool in the fight to keep people safe. Radiology has become an indispensable part of health care, and its importance has been highlighted during this pandemic.