Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides valuable information about disease and its progression for many different fields within medicine. However, the hospitals that do not have MR scanners do not always realize the impact of not having one has on their practice.
All of the patients that are being referred to other hospitals and clinics for MRI scans are, of course, part of the people who will be served by the MR department. Other patients who are imaged using a different type of scan than MRI to supplement the fact that there is no MRI scanner would also add to the number of scans. The referrals and supplemental scans could lead to a large patient base initially. When hospitals consider that their reputation and that of their doctors may improve after your purchase, they may see an even larger number of patients.
Reducing outside referrals and increasing your patients
Patients often do not want to have to make multiple trips when they are going to the doctor. They would rather see the doctor for their concern, have any lab work or imaging that is desired and get their treatment plan all in one place. Of course, this is not always possible, even with the desired number of scanners, due to scheduling and processing time. If a patient needs to have a scan done immediately, like they may from the emergency department. They are not going to want to be transferred from one location to the next.
By adding an MR system, hospitals improve their clinical offerings to existing patients and acquire new referred patients. When a patient leaves the hospital with a referral, there is always a chance that they will not go to that second location to have the testing done that they should. By providing a place to scan at the initial hospital, physicians can send the patient straight to the radiology or MR department without worrying about them not having the tests. This also makes a hospital more competitive compared to those in the area.
Building your clinical offerings and reputation
The reputation of a hospital depends on a variety of different factors, including patient experience, physicians, and equipment. If the patient experience is exceptional, they may be more likely to refer there friends and family. The opinion of the patient matters and can be influenced by the physician they see, the facility they visit and the equipment the facility has.
It is always possible, whether the patient has a good or bad experience at the hospital, that they will tell others about it. Many facilities are looking for ways to improve not only the hospital staff's interactions with patients, but also the impression the patients have of the facility and its competency. Patients often prefer to not need to go to multiple places for treatment, as mentioned above. Patients are also looking for as comfortable as possible experience in the hospital, especially when they are having some testing done. An excellent way to improve this is to make sure you have what you need on site, as well as having more comfortable scanners. By adding an MR to your facility, another way to enhance the patient experience is offering the advanced clinical capabilities an MR brings, such as exams that include free-breathing and motion-correction scans. There are many great ways to adapt to your patients' needs while increasing throughput for your facility.
The level of physicians that a hospital has also affect its reputation, because noteworthy doctors may expect more reliability and access to different tests than their counterparts. If a hospital has all of the necessary equipment, like MR and CT scanners, the noted physician may be more likely to agree to work there. Patients of that physician, if they are near enough, may switch to that hospital because of the doctor, which could increase revenue with just their office visits. Additionally, these patients who are following the doctor when they transfer may add to the number of potential scans and add to the hospital's resources.
Choosing the right MR scanner for you
The average lifespan of an MRI scanner is about 11 years, though some are used for over 20 years. MRI scanners are a large investment, so it's important to know the scanner will continue to provide for your growing needs over the coming years. The initial cost of an MR includes the equipment and construction of installation.
Installation of an MR system may require renovations to a number of different environmental or spacial aspects of the hospital. The MR department typically needs roughly 583 ft2 in order to house the rooms with the host computer and scanner, as well as the waiting room. Scanners range in size, but the build-out needs to ensure a large enough space for the system. When the scanner is installed or removed there must be a large enough path for the scanner to fit through, which may cause a removal of some of the hospital's walls along the way. In addition to the scanner itself, the hospital will need to install an MRI chiller, which is designed to keep the system cool throughout the scan.
However, the benefit of having the scanner often outweighs these challenges. When a hospital is considering what scanner they should purchase, they should consider all of their options, rather than buying the cheapest scanner.
New scanners are likely to last longer than used ones. If a hospital buys a used scanner, it's important to know your options for any ability to upgrade in the future to compare your options to a new scanner.
Many hospitals and clinics consider installing MRI systems on a regular basis. They may make their calculations based on the number of patients they have to refer and decide that the cost outweighs the benefit. These hospitals may not even consider that they are not only extending their clinical offering, but also increasing revenue by performing their own scans and doing the preferred scans. Additionally, the doctors that their hospital attracts may be at a higher caliber if the hospital has a scanner, which could lead to an increase in patients in general and those who need scans specifically. When the hospital does decide to purchase a scanner, they will want to consider all of their options. They should keep in mind the difference between buying new and used, as well as whether or not they want a scanner that can be upgraded.