Open Access Research article

Teleradiology for remote consultation using iPad improves the use of health system human resources for paediatric fractures: prospective controlled study in a tertiary care hospital in Italy

Floriana Zennaro1, Daniele Grosso2, Riccardo Fascetta1, Marta Marini1, Luca Odoni3, Valentina Di Carlo3, Daniela Dibello3, Francesca Vittoria3 and Marzia Lazzerini2*

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Radiology, Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy

2 Unit Of Research on Health Services and International Health, Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy

3 Departments of Orthopaedics, Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:327  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-327

Published: 28 July 2014

Abstract

Background

The growing cost of health care and lack of specialised staff have set e-Health high on the European political agenda. In a prospective study we evaluated the effect of providing images for remote consultation through an iPad on the number of in-hospital orthopaedic consultations for children with bone fractures.

Methods

Children from 0 to 18 years diagnosed with a bone fracture by the radiologist during the hours when an orthopaedic service is provided only on-call were eligible for enrollment. Cases were enrolled prospectively during September and October 2013. A standard approach (verbal information only, no X-Ray provided remotely) was compared to an experimental approach (standard approach plus the provision of X-ray for remote consultation through an iPad). The primary outcome was the number of orthopaedic in-hospital consultations that occurred. Other outcomes included: immediate activation of other services; time needed for decision-making; technical difficulties; quality of images and diagnostic confidence (on a likert scale of 1 to 10).

Results

Forty-two children were enrolled in the study. Number of in-hospital consultancies dropped from 32/42 (76.1%) when no X-ray was provided to 16/42 (38%) when the X-rays was provided (p < 0.001). With remote X-ray consultation in 14/42 (33.3%) cases services such as surgery and plaster room could be immediately activated, compared to no service activated without teleradiology (p < 0.001). Average time for decision making was 23.4 ± 21.8 minutes with remote X-ray consultation, compared to 56.2 ± 16.1 when the X-ray was not provided (p < 0.001). The comparison between images on the iPad and on the standard system for X- Ray visualisation resulted in a non statistically significant difference in the quality of images (average score 9.89 ± 0.37 vs 9.91 ± 0.30; p =0.79), and in non statistically significant difference in diagnostic confidence (average score 9.91 ± 0.32 vs 9.92 ± 0.31; p = 0.88).

Conclusions

Remote X-ray consultation through Aycan OsiriX PRO and iPad should be considered as a means for reducing the need of in-hospital orthopaedic consultation during on-call times, and potentially decrease the cost of care for the health system. In the future, alternative systems less expensive than Aycan OsiriX PRO should be further developed and tested.

Keywords:
Teleradiology; Children; Fractures; Organisation of care; Cost