COVID-19 has strong-armed many sectors into converting their entire workforce into a telecommuting operation. Many healthcare facilities have followed suit by allowing radiologists to work from home, and the overwhelming sentiment is that permanent home-based imaging work could be the silver lining of this pandemic.
Since the outbreak, more and more healthcare facilities have been implementing teleradiology services. Texas-based Collaborative Imaging typically had six radiologists working at each site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but CEO Dhruv Chopra recently decided to reallocate over 100 radiologists to their home offices. The University of San Francisco Medical Center’s radiology department has prioritized video and phone consultations over in-person ones and faculty working on non-clinical projects are encouraged to work from home. At the University of Wisconsin Hospital, nearly every radiologist has a PACS work station at their house and remotely reading images is a part of their pandemic response plan.
Although home-based work is meant to keep people safe, some speculate it could become the new norm down the road. Research and advisory firm Gartner surveyed 317 finance leaders who head up companies worth between $500 million and $50 billion and found that they plan to have at least 5 percent of their employees work from home once restrictions are eased up, and another 25 percent said that 10 percent of workers would maintain remote schedules. Radiology seems to be considering a similar route. In a press release from the Radiological Society of North America, Bien Soo Tan, MD, chair of the Division of Radiological Sciences at Singapore General Hospital said, “We are re-thinking how radiology can deliver optimal imaging and treatment while reducing unnecessary movement and congregation of patients within our hospital environment.”