Hawaii Radiologic at a standstill
Hawaii Radiologic Associates has been experiencing what it refers to as “technical difficulties” that have caused temporary disruptions to its computer systems, phone lines and website.
As a result, patients’ appointments have been canceled, and HRA has been unable to do any MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds or X-rays since Oct. 20.
“Upon learning of the disruptions, HRA immediately responded to secure its systems and commence an investigation into the nature and scope of the disruption,” Executive Director Ryan Parnell told the Tribune-Herald via email. “We anticipate being down another week.”
According to Parnell, HRA sees about 200 patients a day at its three Big Island locations.
“HRA is also investigating the source of the system disruption and confirming the impact on its systems,” he said. “HRA has substantial resources dedicated to restoring services as quickly as possible, and we will provide updates on a timeline as soon as this is confirmed.”
Patients and providers are concerned about what they feel has been a lack of transparency regarding the disruptions.
“There’s been no communication at all from Hawaii Radiology,” said Dr. Pradeepta Chowdhury, who works in Hilo and refers patients to HRA for imaging. “Which is unfortunate, because they are colleagues, and they should at least have the courtesy to let everybody know that they have an issue, this may be the issue, and when it might be fixed.”
As a result, Chowdhury has stopped referring patients to HRA until the problem is resolved.
“We’re not referring patients there anymore, because they are pretty much closed,” he said. “We’ve been sending all our patients to Hilo Medical Center, and they’re getting overwhelmed with all the community referrals. That’s the only option left to us.”
Hilo Medical Center confirmed they have noticed an uptick in patients following the HRA’s abrupt closure on Oct. 20.
“Over the past two weeks, Hilo Medical Center has experienced a 24% overall increase in utilization of our imaging services,” said HMC spokesperson Elena Cabatu. “Walk-in appointments for imaging services are available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Select imaging procedures require scheduling.”
Kona Community Hospital also announced on Wednesday that because of increased demand, its Imaging Department is opening its appointment schedule to include weekend hours for outpatient services.
A patient named Haley, who requested her last not be disclosed, was referred to HRA for imaging related to vision issues in October. Following the technical difficulties, she said she has been unable to schedule an appointment and is frustrated by the lack of communication.
“I’m just being ghosted,” she said. “If you can’t take care of your patients or your workload, wouldn’t it be professional to say ‘go to this radiology place instead, we’re sending all of our people there to help them.’ No, nothing.”
Haley had difficulty getting anyone on the phone from HRA to schedule an appointment, so on Oct. 20, she went down to the facility and was told by administrative staff that they could not take her appointment at this time.
“I went back that following Monday to be greeted by a big brown metal gate with nobody there and nothing happening,” she said.
On Oct 25, Haley called again and was greeted with an automated voice message stating: “Unfortunately, as a result of this system outage, all patient appointments for the week of Oct. 24, 2022, will be rescheduled to a later date.”
Another patient, Francine Souza, was attempting to schedule an appointment with HRA for Oct. 28 for a bone density scan and mammogram. She was greeted with the same voice message, except this time, the date had been changed to the week of Nov. 13.
“This is putting lots and lots of women at high risk,” Souza said. “Can you imagine all those backed up appointments? They’re going to be backed up from October to now Nov. 13.”
While the recorded voice message offers the option of pressing zero to speak with an operator, instead of connecting to someone, the voice message just repeats.
“This is totally inexcusable, bad and drastic,” said Souza. “Can you imagine all these women, even just for regular screenings, can you imagine all those misses?”
Both Haley and Souza continue to wait, having been told several times that someone will get back to them, although neither has received a call as of Wednesday.
When both patients inquired in person about another option for imaging, they both reported being told by HRA staff that that was between their insurance provider and doctor.
“It’s very frustrating, and my heart goes out to people who are in worse situations than myself, because there has to be. I can’t be the only person who isn’t being taken care of,” Haley said. “I’m just waiting to hear from my referral now, and they’re kind of scrambling, because I think everyone is in this situation. It’s not just me.”
Email Grant Phillips at email@example.com