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Outsourced radiologists perform better reading for fewer hospitals
Date:1/4/2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Experience working for a particular hospital matters when it comes to the performance of radiologists who work for outsourcing teleradiology companies, according to a team of researchers, whose finding could have important implications, given the growing use of telemedicine.

"More than half of all hospitals now use teleradiology services," said Jonathan Clark, assistant professor of health policy and administration, Penn State. "Hospitals send their X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other images to outsourcing companies who then forward the images to individual radiologists. Over the course of time, these radiologists gain a tremendous amount of experience by reading images from hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of customers."

But is the experience gained by reading images for so many hospitals the same as the experience gained by repeatedly reading images for just a few hospitals?

"There is debate out there about whether or not we should be outsourcing this kind of work," Clark said. "Some say that one CT is the same as another, so it doesn't really matter if the CT is coming from Hospital A or Hospital B; what matters is that the person reading the image has the right training and experience. The other side of the debate says that radiological images are not commodities and that the process is more nuanced than simply exchanging bits of information over the information super highway. From this perspective a radiologist's performance will improve as he or she learns the nuances of reading images from a particular hospital."

To determine whether learning and performance improvement are customer specific, the researchers, who also included Robert Huckman of the Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined the experience and productivity of 97 radiologists reading more than 2.7 million images from 1,431 hospitals.

"By estimating learning curves, we were able t
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Contact: Sara LaJeunesse
SDL13@psu.edu
814-863-4325
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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