AMA survey highlights the popularity of teleradiology

Radiologists use telemedicine more than any other specialty for patient interactions and for storing and forwarding patient data, according to the American Medical Association's (AMA's) 2018 Physicians Practice Benchmark Survey. Results were published in the December issue of Health Affairs.

“While regulatory and legislative changes have been implemented to encourage the use of telemedicine, there are no nationally representative estimates on its use by physicians across all medical specialties,” said lead author Carol K. Kane, AMA director of economic and health policy research, in a prepared statement

The AMA surveyed 3,500 physicians and found that, overall, 15 percent of physicians belonged to a practice that used telemedicine in some capacity. While 39.5 percent of radiologists use telemedicine for patient interactions, another 42.7 percent of radiologists use it for storing and forward patient data. This makes radiology No. 1 among all specialties in both categories.

Additionally, the survey showed that 25.5 percent of radiologists use telemedicine for interactions with colleagues and health care professionals. Just emergency medicine physicians (38.8 percent) and pathologists (30.4 percent) ranked higher.

The survey results also indicated that smaller practices and physician-owned practices utilize telemedicine at a decreased rate compared to larger medical practices and those that are not physician-owned.

“The findings suggest the financial burden of implementing telemedicine may be a continuing barrier, especially for that segment of practices,” the statement read.