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Houston Medical Imaging sponsors a teleradiology initiative in rural Panama as well. This project, a partnership between Fundacion Adan Rios, Cable and Wireless of Panama and HMI enables Dr. Randall Stenoien and the physicians of Innovative Radiology to provide timely and courtesy interpretations of CAT scans performed at Hospital Chicho Fabrega in Santiago de Veraguas, Panama.

Each year, Houston Medical Imaging helps to sponsor multiple charity events locally. These include HAMAH, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Doctors for Peru, Lutheran High North High School, the University of Houston and Friends of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention.

The CEO of Houston Medical Imaging, Randall A. Stenoien MD, was introduced to Panama in 1998 by colleague and friend Adan Rios, MD, when he was invited to participate in the second annual medical conference in Santiago de Veraguas, Panama. What might have been a nice introductory trip soon turned into a passion for the country and people of Panama.

The local public hospital, “Chicho Fabrega,” was constructed in 1998 by the Ministry of Health of Panama. The facility began seeing patients soon thereafter. When a CT (computed tomography) scanner was installed in early 2003, the opportunity to provide assistance presented itself and the Santiago teleradiology project was born.

The participants of the project included Cable and Wireless of Panama (led by Jorge Nicolau), Fondacion Adan Rios, and Houston Medical Imaging. Cable and Wireless installed a robust frame relay internet connection at no charge. Fondacion Adan Rios coordinated the project while HMI donated needed computer equipment and expertise. A timely donation from Devices and Services of Dallas (Patrick Barr MD) supplied image capture devices with teleradiology capabilities).

Since October 2003, over 2800 patient exams (as of June 2006) have been transmitted from Panama to HMI. The technologist registers the patient on the RIS (Radiology Information System) and transmits the study. The study is converted to DICOM in Houston and stored on the PACS (Picture Archival System) where Dr. Stenoien interprets the study and transmits a report back to Panama via the RIS. Technologists in Panama have real-time access to reports and are responsible for transmitting the information to the referring physician.

It is important to note that the costs of this initiative are carried by the original sponsors with no charges made to the government or patients of Hospital Chicho Fabrega. The physicians and employees of HMI are proud to participate in this ongoing project, and hope that this small example may serve as a model that can be more widely adopted. Finally, there are plans to expand the scope of this project in October, 2006.