OCTOBER 27, 2014, PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) – As most people in Hampton Roads are sitting down to dinner, a Naval Medical Center Portsmouth radiologist starts her night shift, reading radiological scans from some of the day’s patients.
At the same time, a family member in Pensacola, Fla., is involved in a car accident, is rushed to the naval hospital and requires numerous radiological scans.
Thanks to NMCP’s recent Radiology Telemedicine initiative, “Night Vision,” the NMCP radiologist will be sent the scans from the Florida patient for reading, and will return the findings within an hour. Previously, the patient may have had to wait until the next day for a certified radiologist to read X-rays and CT scans.
Through “Night Vision,” NMCP supports naval hospitals and naval health clinics in Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Cuba and Japan.
“Before this program, each facility we now support had contract staff who were only able to read certain scans at night,” said Cmdr. Scott Rader, Radiology Department chairman. “Now, NMCP radiologists are able to read all the patients’ scans and even provide results faster. We also provide more specialized reads because of the experience and training of our staff, which can be especially useful in an emergency.”
Naval Health Clinic New England’s branch clinic in Groton, Conn., was the first to receive support when the program began its beta testing phase last year. The idea for supporting East Coast treatment facilities was born from the success of NMCP’s day staff supporting the night staff of U.S. Navy hospitals and clinics throughout the Pacific Rim.
“The time difference made it easy for us to help the night crew in the Pacific Rim with our full day staff,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Beery, Radiology Department vice chairman. “After doing that for a while, we saw that with a few manning and policy changes, we could consolidate and help patients at our other clinics and save money in the process.”
Three active-duty radiologists were added to the night staff at NMCP. They work an alternating schedule, with two on duty at a time from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Between reducing contract staff and adding NMCP staff, the net result is a cost reduction of about $800,000 annually. Since the program’s full implementation in September, radiologists have completed approximately 900 “Night Vision” reads, and 120 in support of Pacific Rim clinics.
“The changes implemented are making our system more efficient and letting us reduce costs,” Beery said. “This also lets us continue to improve and provide quality services for service members and their families within our coverage areas.”