“Nighthawk” service ensures scans read around the clock
Jacksonville radiologist works part of year in Spain where he read scans in another time zone while others sleep.
Johnny Woodhouse Published: 10/2/2017
While radiologists in Jacksonville are fast asleep, others like Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, MD, a musculoskeletal radiologist who resides part of the year in Spain, are reading CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs in another time zone and sending their diagnoses across encrypted, high-speed data lines.
Dr. Rodriguez is one of four “nighthawks” for Jacksonville-based Mori Bean & Brooks (MBB) who work what’s called the “overnight shift.”
“We read all of the emergency room cases coming out of all Baptist Health hospitals and standalone emergency centers, including stroke cases,” said the 20-year radiology veteran. “We can view studies at the same time at all the sites and offices.”
With the demand for imaging procedures reportedly growing at an annual rate of 15 percent, there simply are not enough radiologists to go around during the daytime hours.
“Our radiology group was pretty innovative when it came to creating a nighthawk service, because the after-hours work is certainly not what it used to be,” said Doug Gesner, MD, an interventional radiologist with MBB. “When I first started [in 2002] as a radiologist, you probably read 10 to 20 scans a night. Now, you might read up to 100. In those days, the MRI machines would shut down after 5 p.m. But now you have multiple magnets going all night long and all weekend.”
Dr. Rodriguez is not the only “nighthawk” for MBB who works outside the continental U.S. Radiologist Matt Harris, MD, resides in Hawaii. Both have computer work stations that are identical to the ones their colleagues use in Jacksonville.
Prior to joining MBB in 2005, Dr. Rodriguez, a Jacksonville native, spent a year as a nighthawk for one of the largest on-call imaging services in the U.S. “I get scans beamed to my computer just like the radiologists at MBB do, but in my case the cable is a little longer,” added the 1987 Bolles School graduate and former clinical instructor at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis.
Gesner, who serves as chief of interventional radiology for Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, said MBB has a pair of nighthawks working every overnight shift along with another radiologist on call. “And by using in-house doctors, we’re not outsourcing the work to an unknown entity,” he added.