Buying a CT scanner is a big step for your practice or institution. With prices ranging from $100,000 up to over $1,000,000, it’s a significant investment and it makes sense to gather all the information you can before deciding what to buy, who to buy it from, whether you need new or refurbished equipment and how much to set aside in your budget for the purchase. It’s important to note that the reimbursement rates are the same for new and refurbished CT scanners.
These steps will help you to make an informed decision based on reliable information, and get the most suitable CT scanner for your facility’s needs:
Step 1: Assess Your Workflow
When you buy a CT scanner, it’s essential to choose equipment that can handle your patient workflow. While everyone would love to have the most advanced technology available, it doesn’t always make financial sense to buy more than you need, unless you’re anticipating a high level of growth in the near future.
Conduct an assessment of your patient load and determine the number of CT studies needed in any given week. This will enable you to calculate whether the throughput of your preferred device is adequate for the demand.
Step 2: Evaluate Clinical Exam Needs
Consult your patient records and compile a spreadsheet of the clinical needs for most of the CT studies you order. From a 16-slice scanner up to a sophisticated 64-slice machine, your choice depends on what you need it to do. These systems also offer different speeds of image reconstruction, so it’s essential that you buy a CT scanner that will optimize your patient workflow.
Step 3: Compare Model Capabilities
Identify two or three CT scanner models that fit your requirements and map out a detailed comparison of their various features. This will help you to avoid finding out after the fact that a feature that you need is not part of your new scanner’s capability.
It’s important to compare issues such as:
- Systems cycle time
- Spatial resolution
- The system’s software options and applications
- Helical scanning protocols
- Safety measures specific to your patient profile
- Whether the models you’re considering comply with XR-29 CT Smart Dose standards.
Step 4: Consider the Service Aspect
When you purchase high-value equipment like a CT scanner, your selection of vendor is as important as your choice of machinery. Don’t overlook comparing the quality of service that the company provides with the scanner, such as:
- Warranty and extended service plan availability
- System component coverage and exclusions from coverage
- Up-time guarantee
- Guaranteed on-site response timesIt’s always a good idea to get references from existing clients on your chosen vendor’s ability to perform service and maintenance on your medical imaging equipment.
Step 5: Calculate the Costs
The cost to buy a CT scanner that does the job starts with the purchase or lease price, but it doesn’t end there. It’s also necessary to take into account site-planning for the location of the equipment, the design and construction needed to prepare a suitable exam facility, air conditioning and power requirements. Remember that reimbursement rates are the same for studies performed by new and refurbished CT scanners.
The system’s lifespan and ability to image quality can be affected heavily by the availability of a stable electrical supply, so you may need to install surge suppressors and backup generators to protect the equipment from power failures and fluctuations.
All these factors add to the final cost to buy a CT scanner. Then, of course, there’s the revenue-generation aspect of offering the service, and whether your typical patient load makes it a practical acquisition.
Once you compare the results of your research, you’ll be able to determine how buying a scanner will contribute to service to your patients and the profitability of your practice.