India emerging as a hub for outsourcing Teleradiology services
The demand for interpretation of diagnostic and imaging services in radiology is growing rapidly all over the world in a very fast pace. The advancements seen in the last couple of decades in technology with the invention and extensive use of internet even in the remote areas and cheaper internet cost in the cities have enhanced the delivery of teleradiology, and are set to grow in utilization, especially with the new generation of radiologists who are more tech savvy. As a result, the field of teleradiology is becoming wider and more complex.
The utilization of teleradiology probably dates back to 1929, when dental x-rays were transmitted with the help of telegraph to a distant location. Today, digitized images which is not only limited to radiology are transmitted across the globe via high-speed telecommunication links in just a blink of an eye.
The invention of teleradiology took place partly due to the imbalance between the demand and availability of diagnostic services. The high demand for radiology services in many places of the world often could not be fulfilled by the number of available in-house healthcare professionals. In the USA, while the number of scans being performed has been increasing, there has been a persisting shortage of radiologists in the market. In the United Kingdom, it is being reported that a radiologist takes almost 21 days on average to submit an MRI report. This delay has a serious implication on the patient care and escalation in treatment cost. It has been seen that the lack of availability of timely diagnostic services causes great problems for medical professionals during emergencies and during the night hours.
The global teleradiology market size is estimated to expand at a CAGR of 18.4% from 2019 to 2026. It is seen that hospitals in the USA, UK and Singapore are outsourcing radiology reporting to places such as Australia, Europe, and some Asian countries including India for competent and timely professional help. The immediate availability of diagnostic services, which is extremely important during medical emergencies, is a big advantage that outsourcing offers.
One of the reasons for the growth of teleradiology is that most parts of world do not have good radiological services and personnel. With teleradiology, this deficiency can be overcome by using the help of more experienced personnel in the larger centers in the cities. Also, even in the cities, not all imaging centers have subspecialty expertise; difficult cases in specific areas of radiology can be sent to experts for their opinion.
India emerging as a hub for outsourcing Teleradiology services:
With the huge gap between the demand and supply of radiologists worldwide, technology has opened the door to outsource radiology interpretations to India for quality, cost-effectiveness and better turnaround time. India has a vast pool of medical talent credited for making the country a popular destination of outsourced radiology work. There are several reasons for which India has distinctive advantages when it comes to providing Teleradiology services to organizations. A few can be summarized as below:
- Cost-effectiveness: The cost of reporting a study by a radiologist is comparatively lower in India. Likewise, the salary an Indian radiologist is getting is also lesser than a consultant earning in other countries.
- Skilled team: India has an edge in being a forerunner in information technology and also skilled manpower other than clinicians to assist in teleradiology support. It also has a large pool of English speaking manpower which becomes easier to provide services effectively.
- Policies: India has a positive policy environment, which encourages investments and simplifies rules and procedures and a friendly tax structure. Today, the satisfaction of being a physician in India is unmatched. And, also make outsourcing teleradiology to India extremely easy.
- Technology and infrastructure: Indian teleradiology providers uses state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure available in the market to ensure optimum quality with the best turnaround time.
- Time difference: India is geographically placed in such a way that when it is night in places like USA, it is daytime here. This opens up opportunities for Indian radiologists for night-hawk services. Also, this leads to better quality and a greater accuracy of image interpretation by an Indian consultant than a radiologist who is in his night shift hours.
Teleradiology in India is making a rapid stride in the healthcare world. Its impact is going to be felt even more in the coming years. However, the teleradiology industry has its own challenges as well. With the introduction of stringent data privacy laws in most of the part of the world, transfer of data outside the country has become a matter of concern and has affected it in some ways or the other.
Syeda Sabera Sams
Sales and Marketing -Telemedicine
Columbia Asia Hospitals