September 15, 2021

My Perspective on Teleradiology

By Michael Kelleher, MD

“Are you going into academics or private practice?”

I must have been asked that question hundreds of times during training. Since the choice seemed binary and I love reading a wide variety of cases, I chose private practice right out of training.

The private practice that I joined after fellowship was, and still is, a great one: diverse case mix, hard-working team members, fair and short path to partnership, an excellent salary and good benefits. On paper, it was the ideal private practice job that my seniors described to me as a first-year resident.

But for me, it wasn’t perfect. The third, misrepresented, and sometimes frowned upon area of radiology practice — teleradiology — is ideal for me, and here’s why:

As a teleradiologist — no matter my work schedule — I can always have breakfast, lunch and dinner with my family. If a special event at school pops up suddenly, I no longer have to miss it. Instead of losing 1.5 hours each day to commuting, I now use that time for exercise and extra family time.

Prior to becoming a teleradiologist, I worried that I would be commoditized and lose perceived value, despite being highly trained. Now I find this concern is far from the truth. As CEO of my teleradiology practice, I spend a good deal of my time interacting with prospective clients.

Both my fellowship training and the training received by the radiologists in my practice are a huge value-add to attracting and maintaining our customer base. My teleradiology training and expertise are clearly valued as referring clinicians consult with me a few times each day.

Another concern that I had about becoming a teleradiologist was losing the opportunity for career development and advancement. Once again, this was an entirely incorrect assumption on my part. Looking back on my first year as a teleradiologist, I have since gained tremendous knowledge with respect to radiology informatics, honed my management skills, and learned how to collaborate and manage cross-functional teams.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on healthcare, accelerating the adoption and acceptance of telehealth. Thankfully, this has helped to legitimize the teleradiologist as a remote but integral member of the healthcare team. Teleradiology is an outstanding career path, one that all residents and radiologists should consider.