Written by Dr. Randall Stenoien and KHOU 11
The Importance of a Physician Relations Representative
Houston Medical Imaging (HMI) employs over 100 people in the Houston area. Our staff is comprised of radiologists, technologists, and customer service representatives to name a few. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Venesa Besiris, one of the physician relations representatives, and was amazed at everything she does on a day-to-day basis to ensure HMI delivers great customer service while following up with referring physicians and patient needs.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a radiologist and what they actually do on a day-to-day basis? As patients, we typically don’t interact with the radiologist during our imaging studies unless we are having a biopsy or procedure. Most people only think of a radiologist when they receive a medical bill for their services despite never actually meeting or interacting with the physician. Do you know why that is? Today, I am going to explain what a radiologist does, why they are so important to patients as well as the healthcare field and, yes, why you received that bill.
Let’s begin with understanding the process one must go through in order to have the credentials to practice as a radiologist.
Becoming a radiologist is an intense, long, and competitive process. In fact, a typical radiologist will spend between 13-15 years in school to complete their training prior to becoming a board-certified physician. One must complete a bachelor’s degree, followed by 4 years of medical school, a one year of internship in a specialty such as internal medicine or general surgery, and then a four-year residency in diagnostic radiology. Once they complete their general studies and residency, they can apply for a fellowship to study in a subspecialty field. This adds on another 1-2 years. Upon completion of their residency, they can apply for their license to practice. Fifteen months after their residency is completed, they can take their board certification, which is an intense two-part examination.
Once a radiologist has graduated and passed their board certification, they choose a work environment that best matches their training. Options include working in a hospital, an outpatient imaging center, a private practice, or even a combination of these settings. Teaching is always an option as well. When a radiologist joins a group, this means they read images and consult on therapeutic options from multiple medical facilities and work remotely or in an office.
Advances in technology allows radiologic images to be viewed, shared and stored electronically through Picture Archival Communications systems (PAC). There are many benefits to electronic transmittal of images, including the ability to have a subspecialist consult on unique findings. Images can be viewed anywhere a radiologist has access to wifi, and workloads can be shared amongst a group of doctors in order to keep up with high volume medical facilities.
Radiologists who work in a hospital setting typically work long hours, including nights and weekends, trying to keep up with the 24/7 demand of patient imaging needs.
Even though the typical radiologist works behind the scenes analyzing and reading images, their role is far more reaching than just reading an x-ray and dictating the diagnosis. A radiologist has to review the entire medical history of the patient needing an imaging study, including their physical examination, and laboratory findings so that they are provided with the bigger picture when trying to diagnose the issue at hand. This allows them to help manage and recommend therapeutic options and work as a team with the primary doctor, surgeon, or specialist who requested the study.
While making a diagnosis on a broken bone can be fairly straightforward, a radiologist reads all types of imaging studies that can be very complex, especially when it comes to cancer or neurological issues.
An abdominal ultrasound is an exam that allows your organs, structures, and blood vessels to be visualized in real time. Meaning, the technologist performing the exam sees your organs at that moment versus in a still image. An ultrasound machine uses high frequency wavelengths to demonstrate real time images and then captures images of interest.
Are you scheduled for a bone scan and find yourself wondering what is a bone scan and how does it differ from an x-ray? Don’t worry, Houston Medical Imaging, our Radiologists, and staff are here to help you through this exam and answer any questions you may have.
Outpatient medical centers like HMI are one of the best-kept secrets in the healthcare community and can provide major benefits. An MRI at a hospital can cost upwards of $2,000 for the technical part, which does not include additional radiologist interpretation fees.
Outpatient medical centers usually run significantly less. On average, the global charge for an MRI at HMI is approximately $500, depending on test complexity, need for IV contrast and payor fee schedules. With this approach, you only have to deal with one bill instead of waiting for all the different pieces to arrive after a hospital visit.
Our outpatient imaging centers have free parking, provide faster in-and- out times and have state-of-the-art equipment.
At Houston Medical Imaging we strive to deliver the highest Quality of care at all of our imaging centers across Houston. We know that you have a choice in your healthcare imaging needs, so it's important for us to stay on the forefront of technology, continue to review our processes, and be mindful of customer service.
Houston Medical Imaging is proud to announce their first annual employee recognition award program and ceremony. This year we have five categories for employee participation. At HMI we value our employees and are extremely proud that the average employee tenure is 10+ years. Dr. Stenoien, CEO of Houston Medical Imaging has made it a priority to create a work environment that promotes professional and personal growth.
Computed Tomography (CT) of the body uses a combination of X-rays and computer to create imagines (pictures) of your internal organs including bones and tissues. The images are produced by the X-ray beam circling the body multiple times, this allows for different angles to be captured and creates a (2D) cross-sectional “sliced image”. The computer then combines and stacks the images to produce a sectional image of the designated body part.
Images from a CT scan are much more detailed than a regular X-ray and help your doctor detect a variety of diseases and conditions. Having a CT scan is fast, painless, noninvasive and accurate.
In emergency cases, it can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly enough to help save lives. Tell your doctor if there’s a possibility you might be pregnant and discuss any recent illnesses, medical conditions, medications you’re taking, and allergies.
You will be instructed not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. These medications must be taken 12 hours prior to your exam.