Connected health

Radiology technologists working on remote

Teleassistance – can this work for some hospital staff?
Andrea Lutz
Published on August 14, 2023

Working remotely has become common practice in many sectors since the pandemic. A radiology technologist describes how she is able to work from home.   

<p>“The option to continue working from home means that I enjoy greater quality of life, with more leisure time, because I don’t need to commute and can avoid the rush-hour traffic in the Ruhr area.” shares Stefanie Hajduga, head radiology technologist at University Hospital Essen: “I don’t want to work from home the whole time – after all, contact with colleagues is really valuable to me. It’s a question of balance.”</p><p>The coronavirus pandemic not only led to the adoption of remote working in many sectors – indeed, some companies have as a result reassessed and improved entire workflows. Today, many companies allow staff to work from home for one or more days a week on a regular basis. Although healthcare was the sector with the lowest percentage of employees – just 5.4% – could work from home in 2021,[1] there are positions where this practice is not only possible but also especially beneficial.</p>
<p>Stefanie Hajduga has one such position. As a radiology technologist at University Hospital Essen and head of her department since 2018, she can now leverage her extensive experience and is happy to share it with her team in person and remotely. The team at the radiology institute of University Hospital Essen incorporated the practice of working from home years ago, and it has proven highly beneficial. How exactly does it work?&nbsp;</p><p>Hajduga shares that her working day as a <a href="scan%20manager">scan manager</a> begins at 7:30 a.m. Her house on the outskirts of Duisburg is surrounded by a garden and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of hospital life. Her commute is from the first to the second floor, where she keeps a functionally furnished and completely silent office. Indeed, her work setup resembles nothing less than a cockpit – for this is a place of total concentration. From here, Hajduga can connect to radiology systems via a secure network connection and adjust settings on MRI scanners while examinations are underway. She does this after consulting with the patient manager on site.</p>
Scan managers are exclusively responsible for the examination and can work on remote e.g. from home.
Stefanie Hajduga explains how she works from home.
<p>Before and during scans, Hajduga is in constant contact with the <a href="https://Patient managers look after patients undergoing scans. They prepare and position the patient and provide care after the scan.">patient manager</a> via a chat function, by phone, or by video call. Once everything is set up and the patient is in position on the table, the scan can begin – and is conducted by Hajduga entirely via remote control.&nbsp;</p><p>There are some 12 to 15 such scans each day, each of which benefits from the radiology technologist’s valuable specialist knowledge: “I can help colleagues who are working on the scanner to perform complex scans, such as in the case of angiography. This allows us to maintain consistently high scan quality regardless of who is physically standing at the machine. It’s a great feeling. If someone has recently started working with us and is a bit unsure, we share screens so that I can explain what they need to do. It’s a brilliant way to train new members of staff.”&nbsp;</p><p>Teleassistance not only provides support for the team, but also delivers increased safety for patients. It’s not uncommon for patients to feel uncomfortable – or even claustrophobic – inside the tube during a scan. In these cases, the onsite care team can now use the time they’ve gained to help put patients at ease.</p>
Patient managers look after patients undergoing scans. They prepare and position the patient, and provide care after the scan.
Complex examinations can be carried out at any time.
<p>When Stefanie Hajduga is working from home, she uses a remote scanning tool called&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>syngo&nbsp;</em>Virtual Cockpit</a>.<sup>1</sup> “This software allows me to run three MRI scans at the same time,” she explains. It’s this capability that makes remote support so useful for the team at the hospital, because Hajduga has now built-up considerable specialist knowledge that she can share with onsite patient managers. Moreover, she can step in to assist them whenever greater certainty is needed: “If the team suddenly needs my help, I no longer need to race from A to B. Instead, I can simply log in via a secure connection from home or from the nearest computer at the hospital and provide remote support,” she explains.</p>
Remote scanning is made possible by the syngo Vitural Cockpit software solution.
For more information.
Teleassistance gives the team greater certainty as well as the opportunity for knowledge sharing.
<p>There is an urgent need to share as much knowledge within the radiology teams as possible – and as quickly as possible – due to a widespread shortage of skilled workers and waiting times of several weeks for a scan in many places. Some 145 MRI scans are carried out in Germany per 1,000 inhabitants per year.[2] In other words, approximately one in seven German citizens goes “into the tube” per annum, and the numbers of scans are increasing due to demographic change.&nbsp;</p><p>In many European countries, long waiting times for these appointments are already becoming a problem for the healthcare system. This situation could also be significantly improved with the help of remote scanning, as Hajduga explains: “As radiology technologists, we can connect remotely from anywhere to provide support. This allows us to deliver high-quality scans even far away from major medical centers. The advantage for patients is that they can undergo a specialist examination wherever they are, and even if no qualified personnel are currently available at that location.”</p>
Decentralized work via remote scanning helps to broaden access to the expertise of experienced exam managers such as Hajduga, as well as speeding up processes. Already today, some radiology experts are engaged by multiple hospitals and access imaging systems from hundreds of kilometers away to support scans. If this trend accelerates, we could soon see technologists working on a nationwide or even international basis. That would underline the expert status of radiology technologists, given that complex radiological examinations simply cannot be carried out without the specialist knowledge of these skilled workers.

By Andrea Lutz
Andrea Lutz is a journalist and business trainer specialized on medical topics, technology, and healthcare IT. She lives in Nuremberg, Germany.