Teleradiology comes to Lakeland - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Teleradiology comes to Lakeland

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April 3, 2006

Lakeland - Shelves stacked with hundreds of x-ray film files are a thing of the past at Louis Smith Memorial Hospital. The radiology department is now completely electronic. "Before we had to print all of our images on film, now we give a patient a CD with their images burned onto it," said Bill Wilson, Ancillary Services Director.

Through a system called teleradiology, all x-ray images are taken digitally. "We send our images electronically to specialized radiologists in Atlanta and they actually read it, then fax us back a report, and this can happen in less than 30 minutes in a critical situation," said Wilson.

There's no more depending on a courier to take films to bigger hospitals in neighboring towns. With the simple click of a mouse, the images are in the hands of the experts. It takes less than half the time it does to develop X-rays through film. "It might be a 30 minute delay in care by using telradiology, without it it might be a five, six, or seven hour delay," said John Oxendine, State Insurance Commissioner.

In a critical situation, that time could mean the difference between life and death. "Having access to sub specialized health care is everyone's right," said Dr. Raja Reddy.

It's putting health care in rural South Georgia on the same level as that in Atlanta and other metro cities, but the technology doesn't come cheap. Small hospitals like this one probably couldn't afford it on their own.  That's why the state insurance commissioners office stepped in to help today with a check for $85,000. "We had to borrow the money to put the system in, it was about $140,000 and the $85,000 is relieving the stress of the hospital tremendously financially," said Wilson.

It's ensuring that patients in hopsitals all over the state, even in rural communities like this one, get the highest quality of health care.

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