Health Column: Choosing convenience: Satellite facilities benefit busy consumers

By Koki Best, R.T.(R)(M)

Everything in our lives revolves around convenience these days. We pay for our gasoline at the pump, we choose the self check-out lanes at the grocery store, we prefer fast food over a sit-down meal and we have news alerts sent to our cell phones or computers.

It’s hard to imagine convenience-related choices not being part of our normal routine - even when it comes to us making health care decisions. Health-related questions, problems or needs already can be the root of uneasy times for individuals, family members and friends, but with the demand for a convenience-based society, that’s starting to change.

In the health care arena, we’re seeing that the convenience-based decisions aren’t stopping. Today, many hospitals and health-related providers now are offering services that make a patient’s encounter, hopefully, easier, faster and less-stressful.

Some of these services include additional amenities such as wireless Internet access and café-style food, but they also can mean lunchtime appointment slots or even outlying or satellite facilities that offer many of the same services found within a main facility’s walls. Satellite facilities - such as the Blount Memorial Diagnostic Center at Springbrook - give patients another option for getting the care or services they need, an option that alleviates many hassles for the on-the-go person.

The benefits begin and end in the parking lot. Often, satellite facilities have at-the-door free parking available, meaning patients do not have to trek through a parking garage or through long, winding hallways to find out where they need to be. Instead, they can choose from a number of available spots, walk inside and be in the main lobby of the area they are needing to go to.

From there, the benefits continue to add up. There’s the ease of making - and getting - appointments, as many can be scheduled the same day if insurance pre-certifications are not needed; the calmer waiting room that often doesn’t include patients who’ve been backed up by emergency cases or sick/ill patients at a main hospital campus; and the less-hectic atmosphere with the same qualified staff available to assist patients.

At the Diagnostic Center at Springbrook, for example, most patients wouldn’t think that a Blount Memorial radiologist would be on-site during the hours of operation, but one is Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. And, most patients also wouldn’t think that the same types of diagnostic procedures available at Blount Memorial Hospital’s main campus would be offered, but they are. In fact, the center has many high-dollar technologies available at the satellite facility including MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) capabilities, a 64-slice CT scanner for computed tomography and X-ray capabilities. Future plans also call for the addition of 4D ultrasound services.

And when the needed diagnostic test or preventive visit is over, patients are able to get back to their busy lifestyles quicker, too, as they’re more often than not closer to the workplace, daycare or home that they need to get back to.

Koki Best is the clinical coordinator for the Blount Memorial Breast Health Center and the Diagnostic Center at Springbrook, overseeing mammography, CT and MRI service offerings.

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