How reliant is your medical facility on your imaging suite?
For most hospitals and clinics, certain aspects of diagnosis and treatment decisions can’t happen without the availability of imaging. You can’t guide a catheter for angioplasty without the assistance of imaging equipment and you can’t determine the extent of a bone break either.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that every medical center that relies on having imaging available should have contingency plans in place in case of the unexpected. While the current crisis is a once-in-a-generation event, it’s not uncommon for equipment to break down or become damaged.
When the unexpected strikes your imaging suite, what should you do? Here are a few things to consider:
Some “Unexpected” Scenarios
If there’s one thing we know about life in general, it’s that no one usually expects any form of disaster to strike. However, a “business continuation plan” should be documented well before any unexpected event.
In addition to the current pandemic, here are some examples of unexpected events that have impacted medical facilities:
- Natural disaster strikes making the imaging suite unusable
- Electrical or plumbing issues take out the imaging suite
- Key equipment breaks down
- A “stop-use” order is issued for your imaging equipment
- Any other disruption to the location of fixed cameras that prohibits use of the imaging suite
Of course, there are other interruptions that are more predictable, such as a camera service or a planned replacement. In any case, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how you’re going to continue offering your imaging services.
What is your alternative – Imaging shuts down until the issue has been resolved? This is not a great solution for patients or for your medical facility.
For one thing, critical imaging may be unavailable during an emergency situation and for another, patients who have been waiting for non-urgent imaging will either have to wait longer or go somewhere else. For the hospital, not having imaging available may cause a huge backlog to manage and may greatly reduce throughput.
Planning to Keep Imaging Going
Now is the time to put a plan in place. Whether it’s for disaster mitigation or to keep imaging running during planned downtime, your facility needs to have a plan researched and documented.
There are a couple of key solutions that you might look into; mobile imaging and interim imaging.
Mobile imaging is where a complete imaging solution can literally drive up and park at your facility. Usually, mobile imaging solutions will be housed in a fully-equipped trailer that contains imaging equipment and computing technology.
Our mobile imaging at DMS includes fully accredited staffing if needed. Otherwise, you may be able to use your current imaging staff. This is an aspect to consider with your planning – will you need staff, or not?
Most packages work with some flexibility, allowing you to choose the service days you need. An imaging truck will come on a fixed schedule, so the sooner you can plan ahead, the better (especially if you already know of planned maintenance).
Interim imaging is where you rent a camera for an extended period of time and it stays at your facility. This includes a fixed camera in a mobile imaging suite for when your current camera has broken down.
Some other situations where you might consider interim imaging include:
- When you have a patient backlog you’d like to reduce
- When your facility is being remodeled
- Disaster recovery periods
- When your equipment is due for replacement and you’d like to test a new model
Do Your Research First
It’s important to contact mobile and interim imaging providers, find out what they offer, and get quotes before any sort of disaster strikes. If there is a natural disaster or equipment suddenly breaks down, you’re going to want to know what your next step is, rather than having to start making phone calls at that point.
For example, staff training on equipment isn’t achieved overnight – you have to plan ahead for it, or know that you’re going to be asking for a staffed, mobile option.
It’s also important to have all of your current equipment and processes documented first. If there were a natural disaster, for example, you don’t know who might be there. It’s important that anyone can follow the required processes and procedures.
Planning for the Unexpected
As a general guideline, if an unexpected disaster strikes rendering your usual imaging suite unusable, having a plan for rental options is a smart decision.
Interim imaging companies operate on a first-come, first-served basis so making connections and developing a relationship is important.
Events such as the COVID-19 crisis are a sharp reminder that things can change in a moment. The bottom line is don’t be caught short. Have a continuity plan that allows your facility to keep offering imaging, no matter what the circumstances are.