In recent years the advancement of mobile radiologic imaging technology has made it possible for homebound patients to avoid a trip to the hospital or clinic. Portable xray machines are easily wheeled into the patient’s home or other location. They can even be transported up flights of stairs in some cases. With these machines, an xray image may be obtained, then processed on site and wirelessly sent to the ordering physician and/or radiologist for interpretation. The treating physician may even access the images on a laptop computer, iPad or even a smart phone such as an iPhone or Droid. Image quality is excellent now compared with just a few years ago. Obtaining portable xrays at a patient’s home, while more expensive than when done at a radiology imaging center, frequently proves to be cost saving. Typical fees for portable xrays done in the home, such as a chest xray or set of ankle xrays, are about $350 compared with $50 when the patient travels to the xray facility. However, the cost of an ambulance ride for the non-ambulatory patient may go much higher, and may not be covered by insurance. When patients must go the the emergency department for an xray, a common occurrence after hours, the cost may be in the thousands.
Mobile urgent care services based in San Francisco, frequently utilize these mobile radiologic services to provide doctor house calls service. They take this a step further by offering this technology to patients of all ages, not just the homebound elderly. They are staffed by emergency physicians and their assistants. These house call providers are highly experienced in emergency medical care and so are fully capable of managing mild to moderate orthopedic trauma, such as ankle sprains, broken wrists, etc. Once the xray is obtained on site, physicians carry splinting equipment so that injuries may be quickly and easily immobilized for comfort. Medications are then dispensed for the patient’s convenience, or prescribed for pickup at a local pharmacy.
In this way, patients are not required to endure marathon waiting times in an ER. The physicians offering doctor house calls service have the luxury of time so that patient communication is generous and questions are answered. Housecall providers remain readily available by telephone after the visit should patients have further questions or problems.
Additional portable radiologic services offering convenience and cost savings include ultrasound and EKGs. While lightweight EKG machines have been around for some time and are easily utilized during the housecall, ultrasounds have only fairly recently become compact enough for east travel. In fact, recent times have seen the development of handheld ultrasound devices allowing for quick visual assessment of many problems at just about any location.