In an age when everything – iced caramel lattes, Internet downloads, world news – is delivered faster – the convenience and timeliness of medical care is still lagging behind.
It is Atlantic General Hospital and Health System’s mission to improve access to care, and in recent years the hospital has launched several initiatives that are keeping the medical care of Worcester County and the surrounding area up to speed: the 30 Minute ER Promise in 2007, then online wait times for the ER this past December, and now same-day appointments with next-day results for MRI services.
Patients needing an MRI can now schedule an appointment the same day the test is ordered by their physician. While immediate scheduling may be impeded by a wait for authorization from a patient’s private insurance carrier, individuals do have the option to follow through with testing the same day.
“We hate to offer that caveat,” said Kim Justice, vice president of planning and operations at Atlantic General Hospital. “Patients can certainly waive insurance pre-authorization. But, we’re in the process of educating the referring physicians in the community about the importance of contacting insurance companies for authorization immediately to get the ball rolling. Our facility is set up to handle requests for appointments as soon as providers make them.”
Once the test has been completed, referring physicians will have their patients’ results within 24 hours either via the web-based PACS system, which stores electronic images and radiologists’ reports, or on a CD.
“This initiative will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for a physician who has ordered an MRI to diagnose and treat a patient,” said Justice. “And it will, hopefully, reduce the anxiety of patients who no longer face a wait for their testing and then for their results to be delivered.”
Atlantic General Hospital’s full service imaging department provides standard and open MRI technology, the only facility on the Shore to offer both.
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