Published on the Jan. 24, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website
By Whitney L.J. Howell
Over the past decade, the field of mammography has become a paradox. Leading medical organizations disagree about the benefits of the study and the best age for a baseline exam, but the number of scans is rising. At the same time, the number of facilities and radiologists willing to read these studies is falling.
As of January 1, according to the American College of Radiology, there were 8,125 accredited mammography facilities nationwide, down from 9,400 in 2000. Many in the industry have turned to telemammography as the best way ensure patients still have access to screening and diagnostic scans. The number of companies offering telemammography is still small, but the group is growing.
“The potential for telemammography is huge — women over 40 will need to have their mammograms,” said Timothy Myers, MD, a reading radiologist with teleradiology company vRad. “The issue, however, is there just aren’t a lot of players. Teleradiology is just now coming to an age where it’s easy to transfer images.”
As part of its teleradiology services, vRad also offers telemammography.
The premise behind telemammography is the same as general teleradiology — a radiologist reads the studies at a location other than the clinical setting of service. Today, most telemammographers are compliant with the Mammography Quality Standards Act and are licensed in both their states of residence and practice. This strategy does have specific hardware requirements unique to mammography, however, including mega-pixel computers that provide a high degree of image clarity for both sending and receiving providers.
Although there is some disagreement between industry experts and practitioners about whether telemammography is equally as useful for screening and diagnostic mammograms, overall the strategy has received a warm — if slow — reception.
To read the remainder of the article: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/teleradiology/content/article/113619/2021608