“I can remember the days when we didn’t have a fax machine. On the care side you didn’t have CT scanning as part of primary care—that was for the big hospitals. Now we’re seeing it become more of a primary care tool,” Boula says.
Telemedicine is another technology that’s particularly well-suited to smaller organizations. Specialists once traveled to Elizabethtown to see a handful of patients when they could have stayed in their offices and treated dozens instead. “It’s not efficient,” Boula says. “They’re saying, ‘Look, from a business perspective I can’t do this any longer.’ So we lose the service.”
And now tiny Elizabethtown can offer its patients access to specialists across the country or around the world.
Many small hospitals are early adopters of technology such as telemedicine because they are innovative by nature, says Jane Hooper, director of community relations at Elizabethtown. After all, they have to be.
“They’re in a small community; they are miles away from other healthcare organizations; they have patients who need access to specialty physicians; they need access to digital mammograms, for example. And we figure out a way to make it work. We just find a way to make it happen—providing these people with the care they need.”