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Understanding the MR marketplace

September 07, 2018
Business Affairs MRI
From the September 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Cris Bennett, R.T.(R)(MR)

The direction of MR purchasing has evolved over the past few years. Facilities are burdened with decreasing reimbursement rates, patient satisfaction reviews that further reduce their reimbursement rates, and the unknown future direction of the overall healthcare system. These obstacles have clinicians and directors looking toward the long game when purchasing a new MR system. Many facilities are keeping their systems 7-10 years, and some even longer, to realize the highest possible return on those systems.

When considering the purchase of a new MR system – whether it is 1.5T or 3T – there are a few things to keep in mind. One of the ways to stay ahead in this competitive market is to be certain that you have a competitive channel count. In the long-run, channel count may hinder or help your business. With a higher channel count you can begin with lower channel coils and work your way up to higher channel coils as you expand the offerings at your facility. Currently, vendors offer channel counts that range from 8 to 146. In my opinion it would be best to purchase a system that is higher than the 24-32 channel range. Vendors have coil packages that will satisfy the higher-count systems,

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Another purchasing consideration is advanced scanning techniques. Facilities are showing a lot of interest in advanced scanning applications – not just metal artifact reduction but also applications that speed up the overall scan time. Vendors offer myriad applications that speed up scan time and give more time back through automation, which will allow users to take care of other duties besides scanning. These applications are focused in angiography, spine, extremities, brain, abdomen, and cardiac.

Yet another factor to take into account is the possibility of FDA recalls on the systems that are being considered. Facilities should investigate each recall to make sure they have an adequate understanding before proceeding with the purchase. Facilities should also make sure they receive a written statement of the status and resolution actions taken by the vendor.

Lastly, but in many cases most importantly, is the question of whether and when to purchase service contracts. It is always best practice to purchase your service contracts at the point of sale. Many vendors add 10-20 percent when purchasing after point of sale. We are seeing facilities move away from in-house biomedical service to vendor-based service in the MR area, with facilities opting for full-service contracts. Be sure that the contract you are purchasing will be adequate for your facility’s needs. Insist that the preventive maintenance times do not interfere with patient table time so there is no interruption in your patient schedule.

Cris Bennett,
About the author: Cris Bennett joined MD Buyline in 2015 with more than 19 years of experience in medical imaging. He has a diverse background in general radiography, CT, MR and radiology IT. Before joining MD Buyline, he served in multiple positions at Dallas Regional Medical Center as lead MR technologist and PACS administrator. These duties provided valuable experience in coordinating the radiology department’s quality assurance program. He has also worked as a dedicated pediatric MR technologist at Children’s Hospital of Dallas, where he gained experience in pediatric MR and DTI research. As an MR field service engineer, Bennett helped develop new T1 Fast Spin Echo scans that had not previously been available on low-field MR systems. At MD Buyline, he serves as the primary analyst for CT and MR systems, and provides insight, along with other analysts, on radiology IT solutions. Bennett graduated from the Parkland School of Radiology in Dallas and completed the Medical Technology Management Institute’s MR physics training program in Milwaukee. He holds his registry license in Radiologic Technology and Magnetic Resonance through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

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