Virtual Radiologic Issued Patent on Teleradiology Workflow
Posted Sep 26 2013 12:00am
I attended a conference on telemedicine last year sponsored by the American Telemedicine Association (ATM) and was quite surprised that there was nary a mention of teleradiology which is one of the most successful components of telemedicine. One of the reasons I was given for this omission was that teleradiology did not have to struggle for reimbursement. In fact, I was told that many insurance companies are not even aware of the fact that a teleradiology report was rendered for a patient when they pay for it. This was an interesting observation but did not answer my question. My personal answer to the question is that teleradiology split off from the telemedicine family tree so early that it was ignored by the clinicians active in the field. Here is an update about Virtual Radiologic which is now the dominant company in the teleradiology space (see: Virtual Radiologic Awarded Its 11th Patent ):
Virtual Radiologic (vRad), a technology-enabled national radiology practice and the world's largest telemedicine company, announced ...that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued the company's 11th patent. Patent No. 8,515,778 further enhances vRad's patent portfolio covering its teleradiology image processing and workflow system, and includes claims directed to the assignment of medical diagnostic imaging evaluation orders.....Virtual Radiologic (vRad) is a technology-enabled national radiology practice working in partnership with local radiologists and hospitals to optimize radiology's pivotal role in patient care. vRad's more than 400 radiologists serve over 2,000 facilities, reading more than 7 million studies annually. Delivering access to extensive subspecialty coverage, vRad contributes to improved quality of patient care.
It should be no surprise that a teleradiology company like vRad has a special interest in radiology workflow and has a number of patents relating to it. Its radiologist employees are scattered around the globe. The work queue management for the company must be complex with a number of cases of varying degrees of urgency in line and requiring assignment to radiologists with different types of specialty training. The numbers listed above are impressive: 400 radiologists serving 2,000 facilities and reading more than 7 million studies annually. At some point, there may be comparable companies focusing on digital pathology but this technology has matured much less quickly than digital radiology.