DataPhysics Research Rides to the Rescue of Radiologists

Life is about to get a lot more challenging for America’s radiologists. The aging Baby Boomer generation (78 million strong and turning 60 at the rate of 8,000 members per day) will need more healthcare, including MRI, CT and PET-CT scans. An estimated 30 million patients are about to flood the U.S. healthcare system as a result of healthcare reform, just as our nation is facing a potential shortage of radiologists. New radiologist growth is only about 1.5 percent per year, while one-third of radiologists are getting ready to retire. Digital scanning systems are able to generate more images than ever–100 to 7,000 per image study, going from an average 15,000 image slices per day to well over 100,000 each day over the next few years as projected by Dr. Eliot Siegel, Professor and Vice Chairman University of Maryland’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology. This means that radiologists’ workload will more than triple over the next three years.

One company working to help radiologists handle their growing exam volume is DataPhysics Research (DPR) of Danville, Calif. The technology company has developed CaseReader, a turnkey software solution designed to help radiologists conduct faster, more accurate analyses. Currently, radiologists view a number of two-dimensional image slices and mentally create a 3-D reconstruction of what they are seeing. DPR’s system streamlines this process by creating the reconstruction for them. CaseReader uses algorithms that allow the computer to recognize different organs and render them into an “indexed volumetric image” that can facilitate the data analysis process. The entire process of reading an X-ray, generating a report, and getting it back to the patient can take 2 to 3 days, an eternity for a patient who is waiting for a life-or-death diagnosis. According to Steve Douglas, CEO of DataPhysics Research, radiologists have projected that CaseReader can reduce that time by 40 percent.

In addition to its imaging capabilities, CaseReader also has the ability to track the radiologist’s impressions during the review and immediately generate an editable report. This eliminates the need to pay medical transcription fees to produce a report based upon the radiologist’s dictation. Radiologists may also click on images and embed them in the report to give the physician a more thorough understanding of the patient’s results. Including images could help to reduce the amount of time radiologists spend clarifying reports to physicians. According to Radiology Today, radiologists typically spend two to four (non-reimbursed) hours per day on the phone with physicians. Referring physicians may receive a better report that they can understand more easily, which may in turn allow them to provide better care to patients.

Rather than simply trying to improve a few exam review steps or create an entirely new workflow process for radiologists, CaseReader is a turnkey approach designed to integrate naturally within existing processes. “Everything that we’ve developed is within the current workflow process of the radiologist,” says Douglas. CaseReader is offered using a hybrid “Software as a Service” pricing model. Under this hybrid model, there are no license fees and the medical data doesn’t leave the healthcare provider’s facilities.

According to industry and U.S. government reports, the U.S. healthcare imaging industry represents a $250 billion annual market, of which $8 billion goes to the medical transcription industry. DPR has an addressable market of more than $3 billion, a figure that is based upon the number of annual relevant exams times DPR’s exam fee.

DPR is currently partnered with a leading teleradiology company to test CaseReader, and is close to finalizing a partnership with an independent imaging center. The company next seeks to partner with an academic medical center and a hospital-based radiology group to complete the validation of CaseReader in real world situations. DPR was also selected to participate in a workshop at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting later this year. The conference is one of the largest healthcare meetings in the world, typically attended by approximately 70,000 radiologists, support staff, and vendors.

DPR was one of several healthcare information technology providers that presented at the recent OneMedForum in New York.  Related post: Healthcare IT Innovations Featured at OneMedForum

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