Case Study | April 10, 2007

Outpatient Imaging Center Expands Equipment Base on Limited Budget

Medical Imaging Center of Fairfax in Fairfax, VA

Medical Imaging Center of Fairfax in Fairfax, VA

Reimbursement cuts and stringent budget restrictions are the reality for many facilities when they consider purchasing medical imaging equipment. These conditions especially apply to facilities in the nonhospital outpatient market. Healthcare organizations are trying to keep up with the increasing needs and demands of the medical imaging market without sacrificing patient care. When faced with this dilemma, Medical Imaging Center of Fairfax in Fairfax, VA, found its solution in refurbished imaging equipment.
About a year ago, Medical Imaging Center of Fairfax decided to replace its existing CT scanner. “This site used to have an old, antiquated single-slice CT scanner, and it just got to the point where, looking at patient care and the competition, state-of-the-art equipment was really needed,” said Mark Lopiano, M.D., medical director. However, since the site is owned by Insight Imaging, a national company headquartered in California, approvals had to be obtained for the purchase of additional medical imaging equipment. Since 80 percent of Insight Imaging’s sites are MRI-only, they had little experience with CT. Therefore, the company was hesitant to spend a considerable amount of money on the purchase of a new CT scanner for the Fairfax location. Additionally, the volume of work performed at the site did not justify the purchase of a new system. As a result, the center turned its focus to refurbished imaging equipment.
“I have kind of known about refurbished equipment for years,” stated Dr. Lopiano, “but I had never really looked into it.”
Dr. Lopiano began considering refurbished imaging equipment as a valuable option based on a recent automobile purchase. “I have always bought new cars because I was afraid of buying a used car. When you buy somebody else’s used car you buy somebody else’s problems,” Dr. Lopiano believed.
However, when looking into buying from a reputable national used car company that promised a thorough inspection, replacement of broken parts as well as offered an extended warranty, Dr. Lopiano changed his mind. He now compares this experience with his medical equipment needs: “If the refurbished CT scanner comes with a warranty and I buy it from a reputable company like Siemens, which tells me that even though this scanner is pre-owned, they have gutted, painted and refurbished it and it is basically new at a fraction of the cost, then why wouldn’t somebody do that? I am never going to buy new again!”
The Siemens Proven Excellence refurbishing program offers tailor-made solutions with refurbished imaging equipment at outstanding price/performance ratios. Additionally, the program offers new equipment warranties and financing as well as flexible service contracts and therefore allows its customers to secure their competitiveness, even with a limited budget.
The decision to purchase the refurbished CT scanner from Siemens was an easy one for Dr. Lopiano. “I have some history with Siemens, and they worked very hard with us to try and mix and match what we really needed and what we wanted. They were very good about working with our needs. Also, they offer great service – that is another thing I have always liked about Siemens.”
Another very important buying criterion during the decision-making process was to stay with one vendor. “Nowadays you need to be as sufficient as you can,” said Dr. Lopiano – and the refurbished SOMATOM Sensation 16 scanner helped him to accomplish just that.
The connectivity between the Siemens systems via a common user platform makes it possible to transfer images and review complicated cases which occur at other locations. “I can [also] be more efficient in how I utilize my people,” said Dr. Lopiano. Even though most of the technicians at the facility are only trained on one modality, the common language makes a transition to another modality easy. “Everything looked the same to them.”
The investment Insight Imaging made at Medical Imaging Center of Fairfax paid off and helped the facility to increase its throughput significantly. While 125 studies were performed on the previous CT scanner in January 2006, they were able to increase this number by 44 percent to 180 studies just one year later with the refurbished 16-slice scanner. Moreover, the center is now able to perform certain exams that could not be performed before, like head and neck CTA (CT angiography), renal CTA and CT urography.
After working with the refurbished Proven Excellence 16-slice CT scanner for almost one year and having scanned approximately 1,500 patients, Dr. Lopiano is very satisfied with his purchasing decision, especially given the financial constraints he was facing. “I think this Proven Excellence 16-slice CT scanner is a state-of-the-art machine. In my opinion, there is really not much it can’t do. At the end of the day, you have to make a profit, but you don’t want to sacrifice patient care either. You always have to take possible future reimbursement cuts into account as well. As long as your image quality and your patient care is not affected, which I do not think it is, and as long as I can get the guarantee of reliability, uptime and image quality that I need to be able to take care of my patients and my referrals, it seems to me that refurbished imaging equipment is the way to go.”
Dr. Lopiano is hoping to expand his business by getting more referrals with this refurbished 16-slice CT scanner and eventually be able to justify the purchase of a 64-slice scanner. Insight Imaging is currently looking into purchasing additional refurbished CT scanners for some of its other locations, mainly private practices and outpatient centers.

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