Q: What advances in the field of radiology do you find most exciting?
In 1983, while I was in the U.S. Navy, I first became aware of teleradiology.
At that time, the military was interested in using technology developed by NASA to transmit radiographic images from remote sites — even ships at sea — to central locations for interpretation. Compared to today's standards, the process was very crude. Images were analog, and it was necessary to create a video of them for transmission. It also took a painfully long time to transmit the data. Still, the quality of imaging was acceptable and new means of delivering health care was born.
Teleradiology has progressed over the last 30 years. Today's digital technology allows medical images to be transferred almost instantaneously from their source to the next room, another building, or even overseas with no loss in image quality. As a result, PACS and teleradiology have allowed radiologists to become more efficient and to provide more subspecialized interpretations, which are both good things that have changed the way radiology is practiced.
“When I imagine the possibility of providing high-quality imaging services to millions of people who do not currently have access to it, I consider that to be the most exciting professional prospect available to radiology.” — Timothy P. Farrell, MD, FACR
Teleradiology will continue to expand the scope and quality of medical care. Could it lead to radiology being treated as a commodity? Yes, that is certainly possible. We must be diligent in providing high-value medical care that will make us irreplaceable to the health-care system. However, teleradiology also provides us with a great opportunity. There are many underserved areas in the United States and all over the world that can benefit greatly from its use. When I imagine the possibility of providing high-quality imaging services to millions of people who do not currently have access to it, I consider that to be the most exciting prospect available to radiology.
Timothy P. Farrell, MD, FACR
Peninsula Radiological Associates, Yorktown, VA.