Choosing a mobile imaging provider could be one of the best decisions you’ll make for your practice. As an extension of your staff, your services partner will be a direct reflection of the quality of service you provide, your level of professionalism, and the quality of your medical services. With all that at stake, here are 5 mistakes you want to avoid when choosing a provider.
1. Choosing a provider with old and outdated equipment
One key advantage of mobile imaging is access to the most current technology and protocols without the initial outlay of capital. Outdated equipment will affect your patients and your profitability. An old or outdated camera and/or outdated software can result in poor quality images, reduced clinical confidence, and damage to the quality of the service you provide. Offering nuclear imaging at your location should increase the perceived sophistication of your practice. Why dampen that with inferior equipment?
Additionally, consider the accessibility of replacement parts should the camera be in need of repair. How much time could the provider’s camera be out of commission if parts are not readily available, and how could that impact your scheduled service day? Today’s healthcare environment mandates quality and accuracy; risking false positive studies with outdated equipment or software is not acceptable.
2. Choosing a partner with a small infrastructure
How large is the size of the provider’s fleet? Do they have enough equipment to support their customers’ needs, plus some? Will they have a replacement camera available if another is unexpectedly in need of repair? Do they have enough employees to address the ongoing needs of sick days, vacation days, leaves of absence or employee emergencies? You need to have confidence that your mobile imaging provider will arrive and be ready to see patients on their scheduled service day, regardless of any challenges they experience along the way.
3. Choosing a provider solely based on price
A quality mobile imaging provider should structure your relationship to make your service days profitable. Some practices try to maximize their profit by choosing a provider who offers their services at the lowest cost. While the least expensive service may economically seem like the best choice, be sure to consider the whole picture. If a provider is cutting corners, it will be reflected in the quality of their service, potentially resulting in excessive false positive studies. This negatively impacts your patients and your practice’s reputation with referring physicians. Don’t be afraid to ask a low-cost provider how they are able to offer their services at such price points and still provide high quality studies with the best possible patient outcomes. If a prospective service partner is significantly lower than others, there is likely a reason, and it will end up costing you in the long run.
4. Choosing a partner without supporting services
Partnering with a mobile imaging provider should help take the burden of responsibility away from you and your staff, not add to it. An ideal service should provide all credentialing, accreditation, equipment with the latest technology and software, qualified staff, supplies, study pre-certification, online PACS access, and unlimited billing and coding support. Additionally, the equipment used by the service partner should be under continuous Repair and Maintenance service with a nationally reputable camera support and service provider. When you partner with a mobile imaging services company, the objective is for them to manage all aspects of the additional service so that you can focus on practicing medicine.
5. Unknowingly choosing a provider with illegal or fraudulent practices
Even though your imaging provider is a separate entity, when you hire them, you are responsible for their actions and behavior. It’s important to be well versed in the billing process and the exact terms of your contract. Be continuously aware and thorough in your understanding and agreement. It is also important to understand that the Federal Government holds you and your practice accountable for HIPAA compliance and the HIPAA compliance program of your service partner. Ignorance will not exempt you from the legal consequences of fraudulent and unethical practices.