December 2013

Redefining Healthcare through Teleradiology

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When I came to Fortis Escorts about three years ago, Tele-Radiology was the first thing that I actually suggested as I believed that it was the way forward for Fortis. Dr Mona Bhatia, HOD, Dept of Radiodiagnosis and Imaging, Fortis Escorts. In conversation with Ankush Kumar, ENN

How do you see the future of Radiology in India? What is so Unique about the Fortis Escorts Radiology Department?
Single centralised reporting system is the only way today by which radiology can function. Because to have superspecialised reporting at different centers, 24/7, all 365 days round the year, is only possible when you have got a centralised system in place. As I dont think any single smaller center cant actually afford a Radiologist of a certain caliber all the time. Therefore to run that kind of system you need to have it centralised as we have DICOM images which are transferrable.
When I came to Fortis Escorts about three years ago, Teleradiology was the first thing that I actually suggested as I believed that it was the way forward for Fortis. And hence that was what I started doing in 2010, there was PACS (Picture Archiving Communication System) that was in place and I got all working and we started the Teleradiology system. Through PACS the moment the X-ray is done, it comes online in our system, we dont have to wait for it to be processed and hence it saves a lot of time. The turn-around time is less than 15 minutes or so, the moment its online we can get that reported immediately.
We have completely stopped the process of cassette moving, the X-ray being developed then the film being dried and taken to the doctor and even the quality check. Therefore if somebody is sitting in an OPD and he wants to see the X-ray being done in the XRay room, he can see it right-away. This has been our biggest efficiency as it can also be used at the Mobile and various other platforms.

What kind of MRI setup you have in Fortis Escorts? How it is different from some of the other hospitals?
As far as MRI is concerned, we have 1.5 tesla MRI fillers, which is considered as the best cardiac package, FDA approved one, for various stents and hardware that has been installed in their vessels. We also have the filler system which has the full cardiac package so we can uate cardiomyopathy and myocardiac infusion. So possibly we are one of very few centers in India which are capable of uating the above mentioned ailments along with other cardiac diseases which nobody else can take a note. For instance there have been patients for whom nobody can say why there heart is diluting and why they are in this condition. But now when we are able to do the MRI, we actually can see that they have some infection which is actually curable. For instance there has been cases of children of six months age to two years of age having cardiac involvement because of viruses, so we have to treat them within 24 hours and make sure that they are up and running so that they dont have long term boundation. We have got Emergency MRI in our hospitals, those who have gone to various hospitals and cities having cardiomyopathy and being directed to our hospital, we take the charge of getting them diagnosed as there is no one who has got the full cardiac package to do this.

A recent survey has revealed that there is a shortage of Radiologists in India. So how is the healthcare industry/ government going to address this issue?
Long time ago, UK had done a research as to how many number of radiologists you require per number of patients, as there is a major growth in the number of diagnostics being done. The reason for this is, that the Patients are all the more aware, as to what all is possible and secondly we need a very high precision diagnostic study, high precision diagnostics before somebody goes for treatment. To convey the patient that this is the actual treatment, the curable chances are this much and the cost of the treatment is this much, there has to be a high precision study behind it. Now it is for the Government authorities to actually uate how many Radiologists would they require in a particular state. When I completed my MD, Radiology in 1991 from Delhi we had only 6-8 seats in a state of this volume. The corporates must have vision, to give Teleradiology access in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, which is what we are aiming at. For instance if we can cover the centers online, 24/7, by this way wel be able to cover lot of patients. We shall use Technology to the best of the need of the population.

Can you throw some light on the process and procedures in Radiology, what are the diseases that can be diagnosed through Radiology?
Radiology is one central tool under which everything, for instance is diagnosed ie Medical, Surgical, Cardiovascular, Cardiothoracic, Neurosurgeon, Orthopedic, Gynecology, and Obstetrics. Everything comes to the sphere of Radiology, each of these sub-specialties will have trauma, infection, inflammation, oncology, so be it pre-surgical or post surgical, emergency patient or inactive patient, whether its pre, intra or post surgical uation. Radiology is one of the central specialties which is important in all clinical fields.

How important will be the role of Radiologist in the coming years?
I believe that particularly in the field of cardio vascular disease, the scope of Radiology is still untouched. Because the chance of CT coronary angiography, it aids to uate on the coronary disease. Radiologists, Cardiologists and I work together to able to uate coronary disease and dig out cases which can be solved with the due action. Also, Radiologists play a big role in rooting and mapping coronary for the Cardiologists. So there is a big role of Radiology played in Cardiology. Technology plays an indispensable role in Teleradiology. 

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