LEXINGTON Healthcare would not be the same today without the technology that powers diagnostics. Imaging technology can make all the difference in quickly and efficiently diagnosing patient conditions. For the Pain Treatment Center of the Bluegrass (PTC), additional advantages of making a significant investment in upgrading and expanding their technology include centralizing imaging services, meeting Medicare accreditation standards, making expansion possible, and adding bone density services.
The Center’s updates include:
Purchase of a new GE Lightspeed 16-slice CT scanner to replace its old 4-slice CT scanner
Purchase of a Dexa scanner to evaluate bone density
Upgrade of their X-ray machine, which is now located in the new imaging area
Purchase of a PACS system in order to read the images from each of these machines and integrate the images into their current EMR system
A main goal of the update was “to consolidate all of the Center’s imaging equipment into one area convenient to patients,” says Heather Wright, CEO of PTC. In the past, the CT had been in the basement of their 280 Pasadena site, and patients had to walk down the stairs or use the outside elevator to get to it. The x-ray was located upstairs in the same building, in a portion of the surgery center that the practice rented. The practice did not have a Dexa scanner but had done bone density studies on their CT scanner. To solve these problems, the Center took over the back portion of their 2416 Regency location, which had housed the doctors’ offices, and moved the doctors’ offices to a different location within the building; thus, allowing them to put all of their imaging machines in one location convenient for patients, according to Ms. Wright.
In addition to moving the CT to the imaging area, the Center purchased a new 16-slice CT scanner. The upgrade was necessitated by new Medicare accreditation standards, as the Center’s 4-slice CT did not meet the standards, states Ms. Wright.
Moving the X-ray not only allowed the Center to consolidate imaging services, but also makes way for future expansion. The X-ray was previously located in the surgery center area. By moving it, they have made the space available for the addition of a third operating room.
Another of the Center’s purchases, the Dexa scanner provides for bone density studies on their patients. In the past, if physicians required a bone density evaluation on patients, they used the CT scanner. “The advantages of the Dexa for the Center staff are: it is fast, provides an easy report regarding bone density, allows them to use the CT for true imaging studies, and allows the CT and the Dexa to be used at the same time on different patients,” says Peter Wright, MD, medical director of PTC.
The Dexa is important to the patients because many of the medications the patients are on can cause bone loss. Moreover, as patients age, and depending on how much calcium and vitamin D they get in their diet, they experience bone loss. Therefore, it is important to know if patients are experiencing bone loss, and thus suffering from osteoporosis, because they are more susceptible to bone fractures, especially in their hip and spine.
Patients fill out a questionnaire that determines their risk factors for osteoporosis. If they meet the factors, then they undergo a Dexa scan to determine if they are indeed experiencing bone loss and if so, to determine if they need to change their diet, exercise, and/or medicine regimen. For all of the imaging machines, the patients get the option of having the scans done at the Pain Treatment Center or at a center they choose, says Dr. Wright. If they get the scan done at the in-house imaging department, the benefit is that “the scan can often be done on the same day as their appointment, so they do not have to go to another office at a different day and time. The other benefit is that the scans and the results are in our system so there is less time experienced in waiting for results, and it is less likely the scan will get overlooked or the results not given back to the ordering physician,” says Dr. Wright.
To prepare for the updated technology, PTC’s radiological techs (RTs) have all received training on the new CT machine and the Dexa. Moreover, the CT has to be accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), and then the accreditation is submitted to Medicare. With the accreditation, Dr. Wright and Director of Imaging Julie Riegger have gone through additional CME courses.
SOMERSET SATELLITE CLINIC
The Pain Treatment Center of the Bluegrass has moved their existing satellite clinic location in Albany, Kentucky, to Somerset, Kentucky. PTC had been leasing a space in Albany, but they were able to purchase a space of a little over 4,000 square feet in Somerset, a location that gives them room to expand.
Geographically, they are still able to service their patients and referring doctors from the Albany area, as the Somerset location is around 25–45 minutes from Albany and Monticello, the towns where most of the Albany clinic patients came from. Moreover, it allows them to now service additional towns and counties in the south central region, such as Somerset, Jamestown, Columbia, London, Corbin, etc. The patients in these areas would generally not have been referred by their doctors to the Albany clinic but would have gone to PTC’s Lexington location, thus providing significant convenience to those patients.
Bonnie Hoots, who worked in the Albany office, has relocated to the Somerset clinic and works three days in the Somerset location. Currently, Dr. Peter Wright, medical director, Lois Downing Wright, PAC, and Rodney Mullins, nursing assistant, commute to Somerset on Wednesdays to see the patients referred to that location.
Hoots will be joined in the office by Regina Ward, a certified medical assistant (CMA) who interned with PTC’s Lexington location as both a CMA and while getting her health administration degree. She will be working as both the office manager and as a CMA in the Somerset office. Eventually, if the office grows big enough, PTC has the capacity to run a satellite clinic five days a week there, says Dr. Wright.