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How Radiology Departments Are Using Mobile Imaging During the COVID-19 Crisis

How Radiology Departments Are Using Mobile Imaging During the COVID-19 Crisis

Hospitals are seeing the demand for emergency healthcare services quickly surpass an area’s capacity. Vital imaging services are being delayed or canceled due to a lack of resources or a fear of infection.

Hospitals are ground zero in the fight against COVID-19, and maintaining services is critical to helping your facility and the broader patient population.

In this post, we take a look at how hospitals use mobile imaging in times of crisis or natural disaster.

Quarantine Approaches to Imaging to Reduce the Spread of Infectious Disease

The standard of care in Hospitals is to make best efforts to image patients with infectious disease within their quarantined space if and when possible. As such, portable bedside X-Ray and Ultrasound are considered standard procedure. Nuclear Medicine departments with mobile systems also routinely image these patients at bedside.

As all hospitals are now in the midst of COVID-19, many Nuclear Medicine and Radiology Department leaders have a much better understanding of why mobile Nuclear Medicine should be the standard of care just like X-Ray and Ultrasound.

Due to these circumstances, our sister company, Digirad, has seen a surge of interest in and purchases of the Ergo (portable nuclear medicine) imaging system.

Proactively Addressing Patient Needs with Mobile Imaging

Radiology departments are currently faced with patient capacity concerns and the fear of infection inside the hospital.

Addressing these challenges may require the help of an outside organization that can fill the gaps and bring imaging and emergency clinical services to the community.

It’s essential for hospitals to address the shock of this crisis and find a way to provide critical functionality to their patient population. By leveraging mobile healthcare services, a hospital can:

  • Continue Imaging: Moving patients and equipment outside the hospital facility allows you to continue imaging.
  • Limit Exposure: Your patients and technologists limit their exposure by staying outside the hospital building.
  • Serve the Community: Keeping your imaging department running during this time is a vital service for the community.
  • Benefit the Hospital: Staying active keeps your staff employed and opens the door to new relationships and referrals.

How will service be delivered?

A mobile healthcare unit is comprised of a fully equipped, furnished, tractor-trailer with onboard equipment powered by a generator. It can be parked at almost any location that has a flat surface. Asphalt is ideal because its surface is firm and level, but tightly packed gravel is an option in certain cases.

Once it’s delivered to the designated site, the staff will set up the equipment and establish the electrical and internet connections. These mobile units can provide CT, MRI, nuclear medicine and PET/CT imaging as well as acting as a freestanding medical clinic.

The mobile healthcare company can provide a team of fully functional personnel to operate the unit, and their personnel can also provide on-site ad hoc equipment training to your staff to provide a continuum of care.

What information will we need to provide?

During a crisis, the following information can help decrease response time and significantly increase a mobile unit’s preparedness.

1. Network information

Providing network information in advance of arrival allows the unit to establish a connection as quickly as possible and minimize start-up time.

2. Staff

It’s important to have an accurate count of your available staff and be able to communicate your additional personnel needs. Upon the unit’s arrival, there should be a key staff member who can take charge of the unit and give direction to the team.

3. Resolution of specific state regulation conflicts

Any specific state regulations that can complicate the delivery of services should be identified in advance. For example, some mobile healthcare companies may not be registered in all states, and special prior approval may be needed.

Planning is not a prerequisite

While partnering with a mobile healthcare company in advance is the best approach to managing any crisis scenario, it’s not a prerequisite.

Mobile healthcare companies can often respond on-demand, and together you can still create a customized plan as you go.

The most important thing is that people receive the necessary medical attention and can trust their local hospital to continue to provide the highest level of quality care, even in the face of disaster.

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