Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital has teamed up with Inland Imaging and Dr. Jason Roth to help boost its radiological services. The new arrangement has already greatly enhanced the speed and accuracy with which CT scans can be read and analyzed and will soon be providing a new service as Dr. Roth adds CT scan guided surgery to the hospital’s steadily growing list of surgical capabilities.
Although actually employed by Inland Imaging, Dr. Roth is stationed at Marcus Daly Hospital and has already been on the job for about two months. The company is focused solely on providing radiological services across the region and is led by a non-physician management team, covering most of Washington State and into western Montana.
Dr. Roth grew up around Nashville, Tennessee and went to college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Four years later, in 2006, he earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the same school and then spent the next year in an internship at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. He did his residency in Radiology from 2007 to 2011 at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.
Roth said his previous job working with a group of 10 radiologists serving four hospitals kept him extremely busy with a very high volume of work that demanded a lot of weekends and night work. With two children, one four-year old and a two-year old, he said he and his wife realized that their family life was suffering from the over-loaded working situation and his wife started looking around for other jobs and saw this one with Inland Imaging working for Marcus Daly Hospital. He applied and quickly received a job offer, he said. He came up himself to scope out the hospital and the valley and was impressed. His wife came up and checked things out and it was a done deal.
Dr. Roth loves his new job. He works five days a week, about eight hours a day, Monday through Friday and has plenty of time to spend with his wife and kids. He also has a lot of help. At his old job, he was required to do a whole lot more. Besides reading CT scans he had to help manage the entire system, including billing and dealing with the complex computer software systems required for the job.
“Now I can focus on my real work which is the radiology part,” he said, “and leave the rest to the Inland team.” This is one of the advantages, he said, in working for a company that has all the bases covered by people who know the most about the task at hand.
Another great advantage is the number of specialists that are integrated into the process, including but not limited to muscular skeletal surgeons, neurosurgeons, epidemiologists, orthopedic surgeons, OBGYNs, and urologists, all of whom use CT scans or MRIs in some way.
“They are used in almost every specialty except pathology,” said Roth. “I’m a general radiologist. I have a very broad view and can generally interpret most images very well.” But when he spots something that may be serious, he said, like a lumpy mass in the brain, he can have the image examined by a specialist in a matter of minutes, not days. And get expert confirmation. This is where the services provided by the Inland group have made a big impact, according to Roth. The technology in play, including a new voice dictation capability, has dramatically accelerated things.
In the past, a radiologist would read a scan out loud and tape record it. That tape would then have to be transcribed and sent to a specialist for review. All of that could take several hours or even days so a “preliminary” report was often issued to the patient who could then be left anxiously awaiting the final results for days or even longer.
That is no longer the case, according to Roth. With the new voice dictation technology, his reports can be ready for a specialist’s review in a matter of minutes instead of hours. Not only that, all the images that come across his desk from Marcus Daly Hospital patients can be viewed immediately by radiologists working at hospitals in Missoula, Spokane, and even Seattle. He said they all have direct access to everyone else’s work list and the whole thing is actually a group effort. If he is getting overwhelmed with images to examine, but another hospital in the network is up to pace, they can help deal with the high demand.
That’s a great relief to Dr. Roth, who can now go home at 5 p.m. knowing that the images he received at the last minute will go right on through the process while he tends to his kids. The process has been accelerated to such an extent, he said, that patients are not thrust into a state of anxiety by receiving any preliminary reports. They get the final report reviewed by a specialist in less time that it used to take to get the preliminary report. In critical cases that can be in 30 minutes and in other urgent cases, maybe two hours. Other less urgent cases can generally be turned around within 19 hours.
Roth said that the imaging company’s interaction with the medical providers and other staff at Marcus Daly was a step above what he was seeing in very much larger hospitals in the south. He was also impressed by the level of the technology and equipment here which also outstrips what was available in some of the larger hospitals that he worked in previously.
Drew Hayward, Director of Imaging at Marcus Daly Hospital, said that the hospital staff was happy to have Dr. Roth and Inland Imaging as part of their team. He said the hospital was employing an after-hours reading service that wasn’t really meeting the hospital’s needs and this seemed like a good solution. He said that the imaging company has leveraged improvements to the system such as voice dictation that are real game changers and made reporting times much faster. Hayward said that the hospital has been storing images with Inland Imaging for about three years already so not all of the process is new to the hospital staff.
As for the new part, “It means a little more work for hospital staff in filling out forms but they appreciate the service,” said Hayward.
Sheila Gager, a Radiologic Technologist at Marcus Daly and part of the imaging team, is quite enthusiastic about the developments. She worked for Inland Imaging in Missoula before coming to Marcus Daly two years ago.
“It’s a great team to work with,” said Gager. “We’ve got each other’s backs. It’s a well-rounded group and they are very supportive of each other and take care of each other.”
Gager said it was not her first stint at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. She said she worked here about 20 years ago. “The difference is like night and day,” she said.
She said the equipment that the hospital has accumulated in the meantime is astounding. She is especially enamored with the new CT scanner and its potential for guiding surgical procedures. She said Marcus Daly Hospital was an excellent place to work and it was just getting better all the time.