E2573. The New Normal or a Return to Normal? Nationwide Remote Radiology Reading Practices After Two Years of the COVID-19 Pandemic
  1. Easton Neitzel; University of Arizona College of Medicine
  2. Eric vanSonnenberg; University of Arizona College of Medicine
  3. David Markovich; American College of Radiology
  4. Jo Tarrant; American College of Radiology
  5. Giovanna Casola; University of California - San Diego
  6. Mark Mamlouk; The Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center ; University of California - San Francisco
  7. Joseph Simeone; Massachusetts General Hospital
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted standard established workflows in virtually every industry. While many medical specialties were unable to adopt a remote work model, diagnostic radiology was well-positioned to adjust, as remote reading already was a reality for some practices. By necessity, because of the pandemic, remote reading became more ubiquitous. This study seeks to determine the nationwide utilization, perceptions, and predictions of remote reading among members of the American College of Radiology (ACR), two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Materials and Methods:
An anonymous survey was distributed by the ACR to a representative sample of 7407 members, that consisted of practicing radiologists and radiology trainees. A total of 345 surveys were completed (4.7% response rate), with a 5.8% margin of error at the 95% confidence interval. Individual- and organization-level remote reading practices, perspectives about remote reading, and predictions for remote reading post-pandemic were queried.

91% of respondents (314/345) report their organization enabled remote reading during the COVID-19 pandemic. 53% (168/315) of these organizations had remote reading prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% (139/315) first implemented remote reading practices during the pandemic. 30% (32/106) of academic radiologists indicate their organization allowed remote reading prior to the pandemic, compared to 65% (136/209) of those not working in academic settings. In contrast, 67% (71/106) of academic radiologists began remote reading during the pandemic, compared to 33% (68/209) working in non-academic settings. However, 27% (31/113) of academic radiologists currently are expected to return to on-site reading, versus 8% (18/232) of those in non-academic settings. The most attractive features of remote reading include improved lifestyle (279/345 indicating a primary or important factor, 81%), no commute to work (261/345, 76%), and fewer interruptions and distractions (237/345, 68%). However, a decreased sense of camaraderie with colleagues and referring physicians was the biggest drawback of remote reading (184/345, 54%), followed by lack of consultation with colleagues (152/345, 44%), and increased isolation (143/345, 41%). Among radiologists who remote read, 87% (142/163) report a positive impact on job satisfaction. 84% of radiologists (208/247) indicate remote reading will be a permanent change to their organization’s workflow post-pandemic, with no significant differences between academic radiologists and those not working in academics.

Our survey data show the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed the implementation of remote reading into radiology workflow, especially in academic departments who were less likely to have remote reading prior to the pandemic. Remote reading possesses many advantages that increase job satisfaction compared to working on-site, such as improving lifestyle and having no commute to work. In both academic and non-academic organizations, remote reading is poised to be a permanent change to radiology workflow post-pandemic.