When is mobile imaging better than ownership?

Imaging technology, guidelines, and payment models are changing for the cardiology field. Healthcare is moving from ‘fee for service’ to value. The choice between mobile imaging and ownership requires a detailed evaluation of the clinical and economic impacts of the two options. Many don’t realize that the cost of a SPECT Nuclear Cardiology camera (i.e., the monthly payment along with repair and maintenance) is NOT the most expensive aspect of owning and operating your own Nuclear Cardiology lab. It is the rest of the costs (see prior posting) that drive the total cost of ownership. Without substantial, consistent study volume and predictable, high reimbursements, these cost factors can not be spread over a large enough revenue base.

The following are some scenarios to consider when deciding if mobile imaging may be a better option over owning your own Nuclear Cardiology lab:

  • Are your reimbursements down? Are you relying on those payments to fund your fixed and variable ownership costs?
  • Do you have inconsistent patient volume from month to month, and are you unable to spread your fixed overhead costs evenly? Mobile imaging services allows you to scale your studies based on volume. You can pay-as-you-go with a known cost basis.
  • Are study volumes high enough to support all necessary costs, including consumables? Consider how many studies you plan to do each month.
  • Are you tight on space? Typically, newer technology demands less space than older technology. In addition, mobile imaging services do not require dedicated space. That means you can use that office space and increase productivity on the days or times that the mobile imaging services are not in your office.
  • Is your current technology older than five years? If so, are you able to invest in upgrades? Can you run today’s low dose protocols? Can you meet patient expectations, today’s quality standards, and current ASNC guidelines? Nuclear imaging equipment and quality standards are constantly advancing. With ownership, you run the risk of your equipment becoming obsolete before you are ready to upgrade. Mobile imaging allows you to upgrade to the most advanced equipment with no capital outlay by you.

It’s also important to consider mobile imaging options when opening a new practice or satellite location. You may not have the upfront capital available to invest in the necessary equipment, space, lab, licenses, accreditation, and labor. Or, you may want to use that capital to support other areas of your practice.

Mobile imaging gives you the benefit of the best technology for your patients without the high costs of owning your own lab.


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