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Special report: Mobile medical services allow for seamless business

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | December 31, 2013
From the December 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“A hospital will have a doctor who promises to come and bring a lot of business, says Koers. “Adding on a new cath lab, for example, could cost of millions of dollars, with the hope that the doctor will deliver on his promises. With a trailer or modular solution, they can get some traction before installing a larger in-house lab.”

Hospitals also test patient load on a second or third scanner before deciding to install it, or can use a mobile to accommodate patient overflow during busy periods.

“If they’re on the brink of a second or third scanner, rather than doing the improvements for a second CT or MR, they’re bringing the [mobile] in to catch the volumes up and see if they really have the need for a second scanner,” says Shared Med’s Buchholz.

CT to go?
While CT mobile routes were once popular, especially in rural areas, mobile providers now report that most facilities require a more permanent scanner, especially for emergency rooms.

“It’s one of those tools now that’s a necessity, so the mobiles don’t really fit that,” says Buchholz.

But there may be a new life for mobile CT, in light of the U.S. Task Force decision to recommend low-dose CT screenings for smokers at a high risk of developing lung cancer. One mobile services company, Imaging Solutions, Inc., teamed up with the low-dose CT company, SmartCT, to provide mobile low-dose CT in rural shopping centers in the Upper Midwest.

Because Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover the procedure, keeping it affordable was a priority. The mobile in question was equipped with a GE Lightspeed 16 CT. However, GE’s dose reduction solution, called ASIR, doesn’t support Lightspeed 16, and replacing the scanner proved to be prohibitively expensive for a mobile installation. SafeCT, Medic Visions’ iterative reconstruction product, ended up being a fit because the technology is compatible with older systems. The scanner only had to be shut down for one day to install the program.

Eyal Aharon, CEO of Medic Vision Ltd. imagines that more low-dose scanners will be installed in mobiles in the future.

“Most of the CT scanners in the mobile units are of models not supported by the OEM’s dose reduction solutions, so the operators need to replace the existing CT with a new one in order to comply with low-dose initiatives,” he says.

While the need for low-dose CT scans is always growing, some commentators aren’t sure that offering the service in a parking lot is the best approach.

“Early detection of lung cancers is serious business and while in theory one could pre-screen and educate patients at a mall as well as anywhere else, I find the practical logistics of doing so hard to imagine,” Lena Kauffman, a contributor at ImagingBiz, wrote in June. “A more likely scenario is for the patient to be handed materials on the risks and benefits of screening along with a screening questionnaire. […]The need for an accreditation program for CT lung cancer screening could not be more urgent.”

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