healthcaretechoutlook

Delivering Teleradiology through Physician's Lens

By Shannon Werb, President and COO, Virtual Radiologic (vRad)

Shannon Werb, President and COO, Virtual Radiologic (vRad)

vRad (Virtual Radiologic), is a MEDNAX company and the nation’s leading teleradiology services and telemedicine company. With more than 500 U.S. board-certified and eligible physicians, 70 percent of who is subspecialty trained, vRad provides its services to more than 2,100 facilities in all 50 states.

But ask vRad President and COO Shannon Werb what separates vRad from other teleradiology providers and he focuses on the composition of the practice, not its size.

“We are first a physician practice— the largest radiology practice in the country,” Werb explains. “And second, we’re a technology organization and provider.”

As a technology provider, vRad boasts an impressive resume, including 17 patents for telemedicine workflow innovations, and is a recognized leader in imaging analytics and deep learning-assisted diagnostics.

But Werb believes vRad separates itself by operating through a physician’s lens.

“We build our own technology platforms,” Werb says. “And we build them with physicians and for physicians. Everything we do is with them in mind.”

Getting the right study to the right radiologist at the right time

Among the physician-driven technological advances pioneered by vRad is a workflow system that automatically routes studies to the most appropriate subspecialty-trained radiologist.

It’s part of vRad’s organizational drive to ensure that patients receive the same standard of care wherever and whenever they need it.

“Practices (our clients) with access to our subspecialty trained radiologists can offer their patients the same level of care at 2 a.m. as they do at 2 p.m., whether they are in rural Wyoming or New York City,” Werb says.

When vRad was founded in 2001, it provided only preliminary overnight reads. However, advances in technology and growing demands on radiology practices, like hospitals requesting subspecialty interpretations 24 hours a day, have driven a change in its business model.

Today, vRad provides—daytime and nighttime—final radiology interpretations for half of its clients, and more than 75 percent of its new clients.

“Our growth continues to be based on a growing consensus that teleradiology—and telemedicine in general—can not only deliver the same or better patient care, but do it at a lower cost,” Werb says.

A potentially life-saving innovation

The recent addition of vRad’s Live Video Diagnostics services puts subspecialty trained radiologists, working from their home for vRad, in women’s imaging centers across the country through the use of high-definition video. What’s more, these women’s imaging centers would normally struggle to attract and retain top radiologists to serve their facilities.

Using the video connection, patients, clinicians and radiologists are able to immediately discuss test results face-to-face and develop a plan for care. The instant counsel not only helps patients gain a comfort level with their care providers, it also saves follow-up visits, which can be a significant benefit in rural areas.

“Some of the worst survival rates for women diagnosed with breast cancer are in rural areas,” Werb explains. “With this personal access to some of the best women’s imaging radiologists in the country, we believe we can make a potentially life-saving difference for women.”

Data analytics drive client solutions

As Werb and vRad look to the future, much of their focus is on the massive amounts of data derived from their work with clients—from the nature and number of studies to the time practices take to turn them around.

They believe a better understanding of the information can lead to greater efficiencies and more effective patient care.

“Our clients’ practice data contains information that can help them make more informed decisions about technology investments, staffing, service offerings and much more,” Werb says.

“We strive to be more than just a teleradiology provider to our clients. We focus on offering solutions that advance their practice.”