Time is life. Distance can cost life. But in the remote corners of the United States, including Bismarck, North Dakota, access to crucial medical imaging scans has long been an uphill battle. Patients grappling with the possibility of life-altering cancer treatments most of the time depend on PET/CT scans. Unfortunately, living far from major cities, they find themselves on exhausting journeys, traveling anywhere from half an hour to a staggering six hours simply to access these essential scans.
Dr. Luke Roller, a dedicated radiologist in Bismarck, is intimately familiar with the hardships of providing healthcare in these remote regions. He emphasizes the pivotal role PET/CT scans play in the lives of many elderly individuals. Nevertheless, in the absence of accessible advanced healthcare, some patients, suffering from both physical and emotional pains, by choice opt to spend their remaining time at home with loved ones.
"Access to PET/CT in the rural setting can be lifesaving," he acknowledges. But in an era where distance can translate into despair, Dr. Roller tirelessly seeks transformative solutions.
Aiming to offer lifesaving possibilities to those patients, Shared Medical Services (SMS), with more than 40 years of experience in mobile diagnostic imaging, courageously takes on the task of bringing cutting-edge healthcare to remote areas. They have always been working to provide the latest and the greatest technology. United Imaging, in turn, equips them with the crucial digital PET/CT scanning system, the uMI 550. Together, they've paved the way for enhanced accessibility.
Dr. Roller reflects: "The partnership allowed us to have confidence that we were taking care of patients appropriately in Bismarck, North Dakota, and we didn't have to send them away to larger centers in order to get their medical care." With digital detectors enhancing image quality, his confidence in diagnoses soared.
"Looking back, I have a tremendous lack of confidence in some of my reads previously just because of the image quality," Dr. Roller says. "With the new digital detectors on this particular scanner, I feel tremendously more confident that the images are of great diagnostic quality. I feel much more certain in my reports and in telling the oncologists and other physicians what is going on with these patients."
In the realm of mobile PET/CT, where consistent service and patient experience demand extra effort, SMS spares no details. Ellen Ask, Regional Vice President at SMS, underscores their unwavering commitment, stating, "We will do anything, all hours of the day, to keep everything running. It's just so important that patients get their scans." In their steadfast pursuit of patient-centric care, they've built a healthcare ecosystem where accessibility knows no bounds.
"You can't be wrong if you're always taking care of patients," says Ellen Ask.
Joe, the driver who has served for Shared Medical Service for over 12 years now, shares a poignant encounter. "I had a state trooper stop me one time, and all he did was thank me because his mom just recently died of cancer. But by getting PET scans, she was able to stay for almost five years." These are the moments that fuel their tireless efforts. Despite blizzards and harsh conditions, they persevere because their mission is clear: to bridge gaps, offer hope, and bring equal healthcare to all.
At the heart of it all, the partnership between Shared Medical Services and United Imaging represents remarkable progress. Dr. Roller sums it up succinctly, "You have the opportunity to make a significant difference in patients' lives because you're the only ones providing this care." In a world where hope knows no distance, healthcare is in motion, a path to hope is made more clear.