If 20 doctors examine a series of diagnostic images, perhaps only one will spot a rare cancer or a little-known tropical disease. There's safety in numbers. And that has led Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center of Boise to link doctors to one another via a speedy fiber-optic network. The six-year-old system now spans 32 miles and extends to 83 sites, including several neighboring hospitals.
The network draws more expertise to each case. And it's fast. Typically, images of a heart patient would be printed and delivered to a cardiologist in 24 to 48 hours. Today, these images can be viewed in minutes by cardiologists anywhere in the system. If need be, the patient can be rushed into surgery. It's just-in-time medical care. By Ben Elgin