PACS enables care in the rural community

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PACS can open up the world of 24/7 diagnostic imaging services to rural communities that have typically not had fast access to the technology, said William O'Leary, PACS specialist/outreach coordinator, Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC), Kalispell, Mont., as part of his "Hot Topics" presentation today at SCAR.
   
Through his work with DR Systems PACS, the small rural hospitals and clinics involved in the project -- some of which are 175 miles away -- are gaining quick access to diagnostic imaging capabilities for the very first time.
   
However, as part of the agreement, the nine rural clinics had to supply a number of technical advances on their side, especially the installation of T1 lines for faster network access. Additionally, they were forced to write grant requests in order to fund the purchase of multiple modalities, especially CR, but also CT, MR, nuclear medicine, and others.
   
For KRMC, the arrangement has had some financial benefits because it is able to charge fees for reading, archiving and reporting of the images. Currently, KRMC bills the clinics $5.50 per study. Also, the success of this network has opened the door for a number of future outreach projects to meet other serious needs.
   
So, whereas in the past rural facilities could count on the help of radiologists and diagnostic imaging services once a week, now they have access to diagnostic imaging capabilities that are not far off from those of 100-bed institutions like KRMC.