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Small Hospitals Can't Afford to Skimp on Tech

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, August 2, 2011

Technology is a “short-term investment for long-term outcomes,” says Kathy Love, CEO of Clark Regional Medical Center, a 79-staffed-bed community hospital in Winchester, KY.

“Hospitals should be looking toward strategic investments to meet their market needs in areas that will ultimately improve outcomes, reduce length of stay, and reduce costs,” Love says. “You’ve got to look across your service lines at what drives cost, patient delivery, bad outcomes, and the ability for the patient to recover faster and better and do everything you can to get there.”

Clark Regional Medical Center has recently invested in advanced laparoscopic equipment, for example, because minimally invasive techniques reduce LOS and recovery time. “We have to be aggressively looking at new surgical techniques and move as fast as we can toward cutting-edge technology that really affects patient outcomes,” Love says. “You can’t be the one that sits back and is the last adopter.”

Radiology is another service line where investment now will pay dividends in the future, in part because of its potential to replace some invasive diagnostic procedures, such as those in the cardio space. Because imaging is noninvasive, it can also cut down on infections and other quality concerns.

That’s true at even the smallest of organizations.

When the 25-staffed-bed Elizabethtown (NY) Community Hospital conducted an analysis of its technology infrastructure, the radiology department—with its old, hand-me-down x-ray equipment—quickly emerged as a space with a lot of unrealized potential. It was also a chief source of complaints from physicians who felt imaging tests simply weren’t reliable, says CEO Rod Boula. “That’s lost business,” he says.

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