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Merge Healthcare reveals new teleradiology software and service offering

Merge Healthcare : 21 November, 2007  (New Product)
Merge Healthcare has introduced a new teleradiology software application, Merge TeleRead, which is an innovative service offering, Consult PreReads.
A Consult PreRead is a consulting service that provides a preliminary report of a medical imaging study (prepared and revised by two different offshore radiologists) producing a detailed report that a US radiologist may consult and utilise to prepare his or her official final diagnostic report. The report includes references to prior studies, relevant patient clinical information or data requested in the radiology order, and extensive measurements of relevant and incidental pathology and associated key images. The company plans to begin offering the Merge TeleRead application and Consult PreRead service to its customers in the first quarter of 2008.

The Consult PreRead is designed to provide another level of quality control and assuredness for the official final diagnostic report (which Merge's radiology group customers' licensed US radiologists are responsible for preparing) while enhancing the productivity of the US reading radiologist. In essence, upon completion of the official read by the US radiologist, the medical imaging study has been triple-read before it goes back to the referring physician from the US radiologist.

'In addition to this innovative new service, we believe that most teleradiology service companies do not have the technology to easily provide patient history and the relevant prior studies required to support the teleradiology final read business,' said Kenneth D Rardin, president and CEO.

'The teleradiology services industry has been struggling with the technology to support the complex final read business. Merge TeleRead, our new proprietary teleradiology solution is scheduled to be released for production in Q1 2008, supports this complex environment by providing access to current studies, prior studies, prior reports and relevant current and historical patient information.

'I believe that Merge TeleRead provides the 'secret sauce' to allow Merge and our customers to successfully enter this multi-billion dollar industry.”

'I have been in radiology for over twenty years, and I believe that this is an industry-changing capability,' said Steven Mendelsohn, MD, a US based radiologist who has been a clinical advisor in the Merge Teleradiology clinical beta tests. 'I am impressed with the workflow and technology, and the medical acumen, technical accuracy and communication skills of the offshore radiologists. I am confident that this is the impetus for a new way of doing business and improving clinical efficacy in radiology.'

Merge will initially offer its teleradiology services to existing Merge Healthcare Fusion RIS and Fusion RIS/PACS customers, but intends to offer these services to users of non-Merge RIS and RIS/PACS customers in the near future. RIS refers to Radiology Information Systems and PACS refers to Picture Archiving and Communication Systems.

'Our ongoing evaluation of the medical image reading market and the teleradiology services that have been established to help augment US radiological services indicates that there is a strong need and demand for innovative solutions to improve quality of patient care and help to increase radiology productivity. This is based on a decreasing supply of radiologists relative to demand, the increasing need for healthcare services in an aging population and the incredible growth of medical imaging technology and associated imaging services,' said Rardin.

'Merge's ability to combine our unique and innovative RIS/PACS technology with our new Merge TeleRead module and our quality control and customer operations centres located in Atlanta, Georgia and Pune, India, along with experienced offshore radiologists and transcriptionists, will give us a unique capability to provide our customers a complete solution offering, designed to help our customers improve both quality of patient care and the productivity of radiology operations.'

'Apart from demographic shifts and technological evolution, Consult PreReads are beneficial for purely practical reasons,' added Gary Bowers, president, Merge Healthcare North America. 'There are many times when imaging centres are faced with study backlogs or they need to balance the workload when radiologists are on vacation.'

“Furthermore, radiology practices are seeing increasingly high volumes of complex studies, such as cancer cases and those requiring extensive measurements; studies that can be very time consuming. By accessing Consult PreReads, our customers should be able to improve quality and accelerate the turnaround time of the final reports performed by the US-based radiologists and delivered to referring physicians. Also, because the Consult PreRead transcribed report is provided to the US based radiologist, overall transcription costs should be reduced.

'In situations where our customers are expanding into the teleradiology service business, Merge's innovative TeleRead technology will allow our customers to leverage automation to streamline the distribution of images and relevant clinical data to provide a comprehensive interpretation of the current study while reducing the labour and minimising the error prone process of traditional teleradiology services. Therefore, radiology practices can focus on delivering teleradiology services and not on the distractions associated with the administration and labour of the teleradiology service.'
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