Technology is driving transformation in healthcare more surely than any other influencing factor - and it’s set to continue to shape the future in dramatic ways. Cloud architectures and networking innovations are making greater automation and efficiency possible, right across healthcare systems. These exciting advancements have also come together to help make telemedicine a tangible and highly affordable way to deliver expert diagnostics and high quality patient care.
Telemedicine involves using IT and communications to remotely deliver clinical healthcare support – and radiology is a key use case. Teleradiology involves moving radiological patient images between locations to support sharing studies between radiologists and relevant physicians; and now many of best healthcare systems are adopting it to increase their competitive edge. While adoption had been slow, the transition to teleradiology has become wide-spread as the competitive advantages it offers healthcare systems have become increasingly hard to ignore.
That’s because imaging procedures are increasing as MRI and CT scans become routine, resulting in the number of images that radiologists have to access rising dramatically. At the same time, radiologists are under increasing pressure to meet tight turnaround times and churn out more studies, with greater clinical complexities. These demands are driving the need for more radiologists who have higher levels of expertise in key sub-specialties such as neuroradiology, musculoskeletal radiology and or pediatric radiology. Teleradiology is clearly the smart way forward.
Teleradiology eliminates the need for radiologists to waste time traveling to wherever the patient image was captured. With specialized radiologists now able to access studies remotely, a patient who comes in at three in the morning can expect to enjoy the exactly the same level of advanced care that they might enjoy at eleven in the morning. Radiologists also love this new technology because it lets them work professionally from practically any remote location — including their own homes. In fact, top radiology talent increasingly looks for the option of working from home before they even put themselves forward for a role.
So providing teleradiology capabilities enables healthcare systems to deliver the kind of high quality 24/7 cover that leads to great healthcare outcomes, in a flexible and cost-effective way, while also attracting and retaining the best, specialist practitioners. Planning for full weekend, emergency, and after-hours service cover is simplified; so is managing cover over vacation periods. Through the power of telecommuting, the shortages of radiologists that many healthcare providers are experiencing is eased. Patients win, radiologists win, physicians win and healthcare system or hospital management and finance teams win.
Is your network ready? Until now, teleradiology has relied on everyday networks such as home Internet connections, or a wide area network (WAN) — which can both be costly and challenging to secure and manage. Now, with a SD-WAN (Software-defined WAN) healthcare organizations can provide greater agility, automation, and security for teleradiology. Network Architects can deploy SD-WAN either alongside or over-the-top of an existing network infrastructure to connect in any remote location — and thanks to the growing implementation of cloud applications, the SD-WAN will allow each teleradiologist to quickly gain access to their specialist applications and imaging data and collaborate back with clinical teams at the hospital.
CIOs and Network Architects already know that in fast-changing, dynamic, virtual cloud-based architectures, traditional security measures, such as firewalls, are simply insufficient. But putting in place a SD-WAN makes network and security policy automation possible. Enterprise IT managers gain easy and comprehensive real-time visibility into the application traffic flowing across their entire network. They can use this information to automatically create security rules based on real-time traffic flows, business goals, and regulatory guidelines. This kind of end-to-end programmability and policy-driven automation — the kind that only a SDN approach enables — are both crucial for IT managers seeking to securely connect and manage access for their organization’s teleradiology teams.
Just as SD-WAN enables the instantaneous remote viewing of medical images, teleradiologists and physicians can easily and securely collaborate to arrive at the best diagnosis and treatment plan for each patient. It all makes deploying a SD-WAN a no-brainer for any healthcare provider or radiology services company wanting to give their talent the freedom to work and collaborate with wider clinician teams from anywhere.
Why not watch Neuroradiologist, Emanuel Kanal from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explain how teleradiology has transformed both the efficiency and safety of care. See his story.
Do it yourself vs. managed SD-WAN
So you’re ready to take the next step and deploy a SD-WAN? Determining whether you will build versus buy your SD-WAN as a service depends on several factors including time to market, cost model preferences (CapEx versus OpEx) and the in-house expertise you have to help you deploy and manage connections to remote sites. To learn more about the advantages that these options offer, read our perspective paper: The Enterprise SD-WAN Dilemma: To DIY or Not to DIY. >
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