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Firm uses mobile digital X-ray system

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Huntington-based startup is poised to change the way X-rays are taken at nursing homes around the state.

Richard Pulcrano, president and chief executive officer of OnSite Digital Radiology Services, said firms typically bring an X-ray machine to a nursing home, take an image and then take the image to a processing center where it is processed and reviewed.

As the name of his company implies, Pulcrano's firm will use digital equipment. Here's how it will work:

"A doctor gets called to a facility or, if he is in a facility, he will write an order to get a chest X-ray, for example. The nurses call us."

OnSite will have numerous vans around the state. Each van will be staffed with a board-certified radiological technologist and will be equipped with portable digital imaging equipment, a global positioning system, or GPS, and wireless access to the Internet.

All calls will come into a central dispatch center in Huntington, Pulcrano said. Using GPS, the dispatcher can tell the nurse how many minutes it will take to get a van to the site where it is needed.

At the site, the technologist will take the imaging equipment into the patient's room, put a digital plate behind the patient and take an X-ray, Pulcrano said. There isn't any film to develop, and the image will come up in about three seconds.

The image will be transmitted wirelessly to a board-certified radiologist for dictation and to the attending physician, who can review the image on a computer, iPad, iPhone or similar technology. "If there's a doctor in-house, they can look at the image while they're there," Pulcrano said.

On Aug. 14, the West Virginia Health Care Authority issued OnSite a "certificate of need," he said. The certificate is essentially a license.

Pulcrano plans to launch the business in Charleston and Huntington within the next several months and statewide within a year. Eventually, "We will have 12 full-time vehicles and techs and 12 part-time techs and provide 24-hour, 7-day-a-week service statewide and in some border states," he said.

"Digital radiology is pretty new in the mobile field," he said. "West Virginia will be the second state in the country doing this."

Pulcrano claims that in addition to the quick turnaround, digital radiology has several advantages over film-based systems, including less radiation per image and an increase in diagnostic quality. He also noted that the system creates electronic medical records that may be more easily shared by physicians.

OnSite will contract with Radiology Inc. of Huntington to read images, he said.

The digital technology saves Medicare and Medicaid money because patients don't have to be transported to an off-site facility and back, and it saves the patient from the trauma of being shuffled around, he said.

Under the terms of OnSite's certificate of need, the company will provide services only to skilled and unskilled nursing facilities, assisted living residencies, legally unlicensed nursing homes, hospices, home care facilities and correctional facilities in all 55 counties, Pulcrano said.

OnSite's application for a certificate of need was opposed by 14 hospitals, he said. The company's application generated more than 80 letters of support from physicians, business leaders, previous clients, 18 state senators and several members of the state House of Delegates, he said.

"Now that OnSite is bringing competition on a statewide basis in West Virginia for mobile imaging services, ultimately the geriatric providers and geriatric residents benefit by having a choice of services," he said.

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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