How does mobile diagnostic imaging work?

Operating a nuclear diagnostic lab can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Many practices and cardiologists are turning to mobile diagnostic imaging as a way to improve profitability or add services to new locations.

A mobile imaging company can provide everything you need to offer nuclear imaging at your location – with no capital outlay or direct expense to your practice. These services include accreditation, licensing, personnel, equipment, consumables, and isotopes. Understanding how mobile diagnostic imaging programs work is the best way to know if the service can benefit your practice.

Why do practices use mobile imaging?

The first step in knowing how mobile imaging programs work is to understand the “why” behind the decision. Example situations where mobile diagnostic imaging makes sense include:

  • An existing practice may be interested in adding new imaging modalities and equipment so they can offer a full spectrum of cardiology services.
  • A new practice may want to offer in-office diagnostic imaging to patients, but are hesitant to make a large capital investment or realize that outsourcing is often more profitable than a full ownership approach.
  • A cardiology practice may be experiencing uneven volumes or expensive repairs on an older camera which is making the economics unfavorable.

Contracting with a mobile imaging partner

Prospective mobile imaging providers should review your clinical volumes to identify the overall need and then determine how many days of service would work best for your practice. It could be as little as a single day per month, up to several days a week. The number of service days and pricing terms should be based on your actual volumes to ensure you make a profit from providing the imaging.

What does a typical service day look like?

One day prior to your scheduled service day:

  • Your office will notify the provider with the scheduled appointments for the following day
  • The completed form will include the patient’s name, weight, and type of test ordered
  • This information is used to order the appropriate isotopes from the pharmacy

Service day:

  • The service provider arrives at your office at the designated time with all the personnel, equipment, and supplies
  • The camera is set up in an exam room and prepared to image patients
  • Imaging is performed throughout the day
  • Images are delivered to you based on your preferred method, most commonly via online PACS
  • At the end of the day, they pack up their equipment, supplies and leave the exam room as they found it

Wrap up:

  • Your practice will bill the insurance payers and collect payment
  • The mobile imaging provider can coach your staff through the coding process
  • Your practice pays the imaging provider for the service day

Mobile imaging can be an intelligent way to remove financial pressures while providing a better service to your patients. While this is a general idea of what to expect, the specifics of your practice and needs will shape the eventual process.


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