Defining Excellence in the Community Hospital

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Mary C. Tierney, Editorial DirectorWhen it comes to imaging systems and image management, state of the art is no longer reserved for large, academic facilities. Community and small hospitals are investing in robust, full-featured PACS scaled to their needs as a bridge between acute and primary care, seeking to provide patient care equal to or superior to that of larger sites and urban locales, and reducing and controlling costs.

Community hospitals are not small, not by industry standards, as they are a major provider in the U.S. healthcare system — and today make up 2,000 to 2,200 healthcare facilities across the United States.

In this series of case studies, you’ll learn first-hand about PACS in the community and rural hospital from eight facilities and one radiology group that stretch from Mississippi to Canada, South Dakota to Indiana and Iowa. They vary in size from 25 to 313 beds, with the average being in the 120 to 160 bed range.

Among the advice the PACS teams at these facilities offer community hospitals looking to make the investment are: Secure the financial commitment of the CEO, CFO and board; Complete multiple site visits to demo a variety of systems; Get the IT department involved early on to resolve technical considerations; Pick a system that is very user friendly; Have key users such as radiologists, PACS administrators, and head techs “test drive” the systems; Be sure vendor training is ample, and then dedicate time to training specialists and referring physicians; Insist the PACS vendor help with integration of imaging systems and other information systems; Invest in a web-based product for referring physicians and access outside of the facility; Pick your vendor based on longevity; and, Service is a priority, so make sure local service is available.