VINELAND – Medical imaging such as CT and CAT scans, MRIs and X-rays continues to transform diagnosis and care of many serious conditions.
The challenge, as with any highly advanced and endlessly evolving technology, is keeping up with the latest changes to get the benefits as soon as possible.
The doctors at the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, here and outside Bridgeton, have developed a three-part strategy to optimize imaging for the community they serve.
Updating to the latest imaging equipment is just the start.
In October, the center completed installation of a new Siemens Somatom Perspective 64-slice Multi-Detector CT Ultra Low Dose scanner in its Upper Deerfield facility at Carlls Corner.
Low dose CT has been found to detect twice as many early stage lung cancers – resulting in a 20 percent reduction in mortality – in the National Lung Screening Trial, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in May.
This month, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging is finishing the installation of a wide-bore, open MRI machine at its Maintree Commons location here, which greatly reduces a patient’s feeling of confinement and can accommodate people up to 550 pounds.
Such machines are very expensive, but imaging providers can’t afford not to stay fully current with the technology, said Dr. Satish Shah, one of five board-certified radiologists who are partners in the Center for Diagnostic Imaging.
“This year alone, we have spent about $2 million on technology upgrades,” said Shah, 70, of Mays Landing.
Technology also helps with the second strategy: providing patients and doctors with nearly instant information from the diagnostic procedures.
Digital technology now means doctors can immediately see a patient’s scans on their iPads, Shah said.
And the center is the second facility in the nation to provide patients at home with a report of their results, including images, through the MyVue system, a secure, HIPAA-privacy-compliant private network, he said.
The third part of staying on top of the evolving imaging field is helping educate health-care providers about what is available and the best way to utilize it.
The Center for Diagnostic Imaging starts by giving every referring doctor, nurse practitioner and physician assistant a disk detailing the center’s capabilities.
Then, CDI holds monthly informational/training seminars for doctors and other practitioners on the latest in imaging, usually locally but sometimes in Philadelphia.
“We bring the people here to teach us and the health-care community,” he said.
Participants and presenters have had high praise for these continuing education events, and Shah proudly showed letters from them expressing gratitude to the center.
Presenter Dr. Sunil Singhal, assistant professor of surgery at Penn Medicine’s Department of Surgery, thanked the center for its support after addressing “such an experienced group of physicians” at a session in July.
Dr. Kevin Barber, a participant from Cumberland Nephrology Associates, said of an April event, “I think it is a great thing for the community, and I think that you need to be recognized for your efforts on the medical community’s behalf.”
Shah said these days many patients have high deductibles and insurance co-pays, and sometimes they cancel appointments over possible costs. He said the center’s staff will work with them, possibly setting up a payment plan.
He also had some advice for medical practices that must use the latest expensive technology.
“Don’t borrow the money for it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it,” he said.