06 Apr 07 Teleradiology services_An offshore opportunity for India

Demand for teleradiology outsourcing specifically in the US is high. There are approximately 3,000 hospitals in the United States, which lack the technology for teleradiology. This translates into a huge market for teleradiology outsourcing in India.

Teleradiology services: An offshore opportunity for India?
An emergency scan is performed on a patient in the middle of the night in Altoona Hospital in Pennsylvania. The operating team needs a radiologist to read the scan. So what do they do? They send the scan electronically to a teleradiology outsourcing company in India where it is read and results sent back to the waiting surgeon in real time! Such services are termed as Nighthawk services.

Altoona Hospital in Pennsylvania as most other hospitals in US are looking towards teleradiology outsourcing as a way to cope with the deluge of sophisticated scans for various ailments. The outsourcing also saves the hospitals time and money since requesting services of a radiologist in US during the night is very expensive. While the income of US radiologists is said to be somewhere in the region of $500,000 annually, in most other countries competent radiologists earn much less – maybe a fifth or even lower price. The Nighthawk services are being set up in India, Australia Israel, Lebanon, Hawaii, Malaysia, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The opportunity
Demand for teleradiology outsourcing specifically in the US is high. There are approximately 3,000 hospitals in the United States, which lack the technology for teleradiology. This translates into a huge market for teleradiology outsourcing in India.

As per the Indian Radiology & Imaging Association (IRIA) there are over 4,650 practicing radiologists as its members. They are well qualified and work at almost 1/10th of the estimated USD 500,000 a year salary of their American counterparts. Some other factors that can drive teleradiology outsourcing further:

  • Physicians and surgeons have become more dependent on diagnostic imaging.
  • The amount of imaging has increased and now with 64 slice scanners there are even more images to be interpreted.
  • US is a litiginous society so there are many more scans done than needed.
  • There has been rapid expansion in the number of diagnostic modalities available from just X-rays a few years back to now MRI, PET etc

 
Going forward…
The following parameters are needed to be adhered to for conducting radiology outsourcing practice in India:

  • Certification by the American Board of Radiology
  • Practicing license in the state from which the images originate
  • A malpractice insurance cover
  • Adhering to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
  • Maintaining client confidentiality

 
The market potential for teleradiology outsourcing is huge. However, currently there are very few players in India providing these services:

  • Teleradiology Solutions. CEO: Dr. Arjun Kalyanpurkar. The company is based in Bangalore and is the top known player in this space in India. Primarily provides services in the US.
  • Manipal Education & Medical Group (MEMG). CEO: Dr Ranjan. Has invested in a UK firm, 4
    Ways Healthcare, to provide teleradiology services for the British NHS (National Health Services).
  • Metropolis Health Services, a chain of diagnostic centers in Chennai, has plans to offer telephathology and teleradiology services.

The biggest growth inhibitor of teleradiology offshoring is the mandatory requirement of certification from the American Board of Radiology. Thus currently, only those radiologists that have relocated to India from the US handle offshoring to America. An option to counter this is that a US-certified, US-based radiologist reviews the offshore work. However, this is again is a limiting factor, since the US-based radiologist must be ready to undertake the risks for signoff on the offshore work received. So while demand exists and potential is fairly large, unless the aspect of certification is sorted out, the market will stay limited (and well below potential).

ValueNotes Research
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