PACS hits the road with mobile surgery units

June 30, 2003

PACS is on the move in the only state-licensed and Medicare-certified mobile surgical suites in existence.The 20-foot mobile surgical units, which are transportable by land, sea, or air, can be deployed and ready for use within an hour. The suites

PACS is on the move in the only state-licensed and Medicare-certified mobile surgical suites in existence.

The 20-foot mobile surgical units, which are transportable by land, sea, or air, can be deployed and ready for use within an hour. The suites feature special filters to maintain a sterile environment even when under chemical or biological attack, offering the option for teleradiology connections to a hospital PACS from anywhere the trailers are dropped.

The Mobile Surgical Units, manufactured by Mobile Medical International (MMIC) of St. Johnsbury, VT, support a number of digital imaging modalities, including portable x-ray, C-arms and mini C-arms, digital mammography, and ultrasound. MMIC is the only firm in the U.S. licensed for mobile surgical care.

Teleradiology support is provided by both fiber-optic and copper cable local area networks and an outside distribution wide area network for a complete LAN and WAN telecommunications network package.

"The mobile surgical concept was based on the need for surgery centers for physicians in outlying areas, providing medical care to a broader base," said Rick Cochran, MMIC president and CEO.

While volume and larger population may justify a permanent facility, a mobile facility is ideal for areas of low volume and small population, he said.

To date, seven units are on the road from Virginia to California: six classified as MSUs and one a mobile diagnostic unit. Usually, they are used by hospitals during operating room renovations or expansions to maintain market share. There is a mobile ophthalmology unit in Armenia.

MMIC also has two government contracts to design the future medical shelter system for the U.S. Army, the first military healthcare products to provide a standard of care equal to domestic civilian facilities.

One successful early deployment of the surgical units was inside the gates of the North Florida Reception Center, the main state prison in northern Florida. In one year, the prison system saved more than the cost of the MSU, or enough to build a permanent modular facility, Cochran said.

"The advantages of this application were significant reduction in the cost of providing surgical services to inmates, and a reduction of guard costs," he said. "Plus it minimized the threat to citizens by preventing the prisoners from being treated outside prison walls."