Feature article

How To Evaluate An MRI System

For a state-of-the-art 3 Tesla MRI machine, the price tag to buy one new can reach $3 million+. That, however, may not be the option that best suits your needs.

Uncovering the full project cost in contrast to the budget is an exploratory process that includes many variables.

What variables lead to the overall cost?

While the list will be dependent on variables like a new system vs. upgrade, etc., some of the common costs to be considered with a project will include:

  • MRI System (including software and other options)
  • Installation
  • Training
  • Mobile Rental
  • Energy Consumption
  • MRI Suite Packages
  • Downtime
  • Service Packages
  • Construction
  • Helium

How to further evaluate a system?

A site visit can be a very useful experience when deciding which MRI system is right for you. Understanding what is important to observe and why has typically provided the most impactful visits. See below 5 considerations for ensuring a successful experience.

Location

  • Clinical Site: Depending on what you are looking to observe, you may be able to leverage a clinical site close to your location. Some of the benefits with this environment is the ability to observe a “normal” interaction. If seeing a technologist work with the system is important criteria for your visit, this may be of substantial benefit to you.
  • HQ Demo: If you want to interact with additional company functions such as Product Development, Service, and more, then a HQ demo is a great option. Most will have the ability to show you the system of interest and the types of scanning you would need to accomplish. Additionally, many of the resources who are best suited to answer questions will be on site.

Stakeholders

Determining who is best suited to evaluate a system during an experience visit is important. Not only will it help maintain efficiency in your decision-making process, but it can also help have a consistent message transfer if the key personnel from the various functions making a selection and working with the system are involved.

Start at the finish

Successful visits start with a detailed understanding of what is important to you and why. Making a list of the critical items you want to leave the experience understanding can be helpful.

Duration

Knowing how much time you need for discussion and questions can be difficult to predict. Barring the business critical interruptions, the most successful experience visit starts with managing the allocated time. While there can always be follow up after this time, setting a duration will help planning the scanning time vs. presentations, and more. 

Topic weighting

Prioritizations of the discussion topics will ensure the right people and processes are in place. For example, if understanding how silent scanning will increase patient satisfaction is one of your top interests, a simple ranking of these items can make sure it is addressed appropriately.     

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Additional questions to ask

The best way to determine if you are selecting the right MRI system for your needs is to understand some of the most helpful questions to ask; both internally, and to each vendor.

Selecting and asking questions in this section can help to provide clarity to your buying process so that you feel informed and confident.

For the growing involvement of different stakeholders in the process, this first section will cover three key internal questions in each of the five outcomes areas. The second section will focus more on technical areas in addition to after purchase considerations:                                     

Clinical excellence

  • How will system “X” help me achieve an improvement in my diagnostic capabilities?
  • Will I notice a positive change in my diagnostic confidence? How?
  • Is it possible to realize both quantity and quality improvements with system “X?”   

Patient satisfaction

  • Will system “X” help me attain my current and future patient satisfaction goals?
  • Will I be able to better serve the percentage of patients unhappy with MR exams?
  • Does this system allow me to provide better patient comfort and care?

Operational efficiency

  • Can this system provide a path to overcome variation amongst technologists?
  • Will I be able to increase patient throughput? How?
  • Am I currently optimizing the capacity of existing assets? How can system “X” help?

Strategic growth

  • Will system “X” allow me to develop new diagnostic services?
  • Can I expect to see an increase in my patient and physician attraction/retention rates?
  • Is it possible for system “X” to enable maximum reimbursement? How will it help with this?

Capital planning:

  • What do we anticipate our total cost of ownership to be and how does that fit our needs?
  • How long do I expect to retain system “X” and how will it impact our evolving patients and imaging?
  • Can I reduce my cost of capital with system “X” acquisition?