Jennifer Scriber, MRI technologist, with a patient.
When St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, MD, wanted to boost its lagging MRI volume, it went to an extreme. The 105-bed rural hospital became the 100th purchaser of an ONI Medical Systems high-field, high-performance dedicated MRI extremity scanner, relying on it as a cost-effective and practical complement to its seven-year-old whole-body MRI device.
“We wanted to raise our MRI numbers with a solution that would complement our existing 1-T scanner, which was running at capacity, until we were able to replace it in 2007,” explained Sheila Harrison, RT(R), CRA, director of Imaging and Cardiology Services for St. Mary’s Hospital. The ONI unit was the perfect choice because of the affordable purchase price well within our budget, simple siting and, most significantly, potential for long-term use to support our new whole-body MRI.”
Today, the 1-T, open ONI MSK Extreme hums with efficiency throughout the day, delivering a steady stream of advanced imaging procedures for hands, wrists, elbows, feet ankles and knees. The first MRI of its kind, the ONI Extreme is a truly open, dedicated extremity system configured for comfortable chair-based imaging.
“The image quality is superb, certainly equal to our existing full-body closed unit,” Harrison said. “Our radiologists have been impressed with the consistent high-quality procedures.” Equally important, waiting times have been reduced from an average of 14 days to one day for extremity exams, providing the department with a path to expand business.
A Better Imaging Answer
“We heard about the ONI through our radiologist group, who recommended it highly. After analyzing our exam volume, we found that extremity procedures made up about 20 percent of our cases. Naturally, imaging these patients on a separate scanner would open up the existing whole-body MRI for more complex and lengthy exams,” said Harrison.
The acquisition also made sense for numerous other reasons. Often ordered by orthopedists and emergency room physicians to assess injuries, extremity imaging procedures frequently require immediate scheduling. A specialized MRI unit allows these exams to be performed on a single device with flexible scheduling, while procedures on the whole-body unit proceed reasonably close to schedule despite emergency cases.
In today’s financially challenging healthcare environment, an important feature was the ONI MSK Extreme’s rapid return on investment (ROI). “When our administration heard that based on current extremity volumes, the unit would rapidly pay for itself, they were sold,” Harrison explained.
Streamlining Radiology and Boosting Scheduling
After ONI professionals conducted a thorough site analysis, the unit was easily installed in an unoccupied 20-by-20-foot space in the imaging department, where it was central to department workflow. With its intuitive Windows-based user interface and full selection of predefined protocols, technologists found the device extremely easy to learn. Today, exam volumes generated through the hospital orthopedic group alone more than justify the purchase price. To patients, the open magnet environment and comfortable seated patient positioning proved a key benefit, while to radiologists, the ultra-fast workflow and superb image quality have been paramount.
Once it acquires its new whole-body MRI, St. Mary’s thoroughly intends to keep the ONI unit turning out high-quality, specialized exams. You can’t argue with success, and the benefits of the ONI MRI have been in a word, extreme.