Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Indian radiologists in demand to read outsourced x-rays
Arvinder Kaur

WITH a large pool of well-trained doctors and high-tech infrastructure, India is fast emerging as a teleradiology hub, providing offshore x-ray reporting services to the US, Europe, Singapore and West Asia. In fact, with teleradiology, there are no geographic boundaries! According to estimates, the US is facing a shortage of radiologists with 20 per cent of vacancies going unfilled in hospitals and increased imaging scan numbers related to a growing aged population.

"There is a worldwide shortage of qualified radiologists and teleradiology counters this shortage by providing services from one area to another. It can be used to cover the night shift from another geographic zone or to cover remote areas where there are CT or other scanners but no radiologists to interpret the results," says Dr Sunita Maheshwari, Director, Telerad Solutions, Bangalore, which is a pioneer in teleradiology.

"India has an optimal time advantage with the US in terms of providing emergency night shift services to the American hospitals. We also possess high-technology infrastructure base, a large pool of well-trained doctors, skilled manpower and a lower cost of living," Dr Maheshwari says.

Teleradiology means electronic transmission of radiological images, such as x-rays, CTs and MRIs from one location to another for the purpose of interpretation and consultation.

The doctors here are thus providing diagnostic interpretation of all emergently and non-emergently performed non-invasive imaging studies, including compound tomography, MRI, ultrasound, x-ray, nuclear medicine studies and conventional plain films. In emergency setting, these services are provided with a turnaround time of less than 30 minutes.

"The scope of teleradiology is enormous. One doctor sitting in a centralised reading facility can cover several hospitals at the same time," says Dr Maheshwari.

However, Dr Yatish Agarwal, a medical specialist at Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, says, "The scope has become limited because of certification problems. Only those doctors who have relocated from US, can do offshoring to America." PTI