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The bumpy road to imaging access in rural America

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | June 18, 2018
Mobile Imaging
From the June 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“The mobile imaging is still the acquiring tool,” said Richter. “It’s in contact with the patient and acquires all the digital data. A lot of the technology that’s being developed whether it’s AI, software or even the cloud, that’s after the fact.”

The cost of technology and mobile transportation combined with funding deficiencies among rural hospitals must be addressed, to bring these innovations to fruition.

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“Some of the DOT regulations, such as cost of fuel, put more cost on the system,” said Richter. “We’re going to have to find a way, particularly in the mobile environment, of being much more efficient with our dollars and how we’re spending them. It’s very expensive to drive a coach around multiple miles apart, so we have to be more efficient. We have to find customers on a closer route or some different economic models, or work closer with healthcare organizations to provide them with an in-house system.”

Myers suggests that rural providers consider entering partnerships with enterprises that can help offset costs. He is also employed by Eagle Radiology, a division of Radiology Partners which interprets the hospital’s scans while RP supplies it with hardware, software and IT support.

In addition, he advocates that hospitals educate themselves on what their limitations are and get creative with the resources at their disposal.

“When there are cheaper and more available means to reach the same diagnosis and find out the same information that we could get otherwise with more advanced imaging, we take advantage of those,” he said.

Slabach stresses that the most important thing a rural practice can do is strategize and collaborate with different parties throughout its facilities.

“Engage in robust strategic planning that includes all stakeholders of the organization. The acquisition planned for new technology, including in radiology, should be an important part of the plan, as well as an existing schedule for replacing equipment to make sure that community needs are being assessed and met.”

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