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VRad Extends Cloud Radiology Services

Virtual Radiologic's acquires Diagnostic Imaging to boost electronic sharing of digital medical imaging and health information exchange.
Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Virtual Radiologic (vRad), a Minnesota-based group of about 400 radiologists, recently announced it has acquired Diagnostic Imaging (DII), a 60-physician practice that serves 16 hospitals and imaging centers in the Philadelphia area.

VRad indicated it would extend its technology platform to Diagnostic Imaging sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey over the next year or two. "That will allow vRad to provide remote reading services after hours, after DII radiologists go home for the evening," said vRad CTO Rick Jennings.

VRad, which provides onsite and remote radiology services to more than 2,700 healthcare facilities nationwide, has a common picture archiving and communication system (PACS) that stores radiologist reports and referral information. "We move about 7 million studies a year through there," Jennings told InformationWeek Healthcare.

With the Web-based cloud architecture and a series of portals, vRad radiologists can read images remotely and referring physicians can access images and reports from the PACS on PCs and various mobile devices. "Many of the hospitals we support ... don't have the infrastructure to support that [themselves]," Jennings says. "We move the studies to the radiologists," he added.

Jennings said vRad has spent $50 million over the last eight years building out its IT infrastructure. "We were cloud before it was called the cloud," he said.

The platform also includes a scheduling system and demand forecaster for management purposes. VRad has developed interfaces to various electronic medical record (EMR) systems that can help extract data from patient records for incorporation into radiology reports, Jennings said. That can help serve as the basis for health information exchange beyond radiology.

If history is any guide, it could take close to two years to get the DII facilities fully up on the system, starting with scheduling and the demand forecaster. In August 2010, vRad acquired the New York Radiology Alliance, a 60-radiologist practice in the New York City area. Jennings said the company is about halfway through the technology rollout.

VRad also has started licensing its platform for other organizations to use. Jennings said St. Mary's Regional Medical Center, a Catholic Healthcare West hospital in Reno, Nev., has enlisted vRad to provide a cloud-based PACS.

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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