By Harry Smith
Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines are one of the most expensive pieces of healthcare equipment around. Moreover, the actual cost of this machine is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other day-to-day operation costs that are associated with running/using your standard MRI machine. As a result, many healthcare providers and smaller hospitals struggle to afford it. Yet, there’s no denying that an MRI machine is vital equipment that helps diagnose and treat patients. Thus, to find a feasible solution here, many healthcare providers are turning to mobile MRI machines. If this is your first time considering mobile or portable MRI, you’re not alone. The truth is that this important piece of medical equipment is a must-have for healthcare providers. That said, there are still a few key things you should know before you decide to purchase one.
What’s a Mobile MRI?
One significant detail about these portable machines is a mobile MRI is basically a self-contained unit/trailer that houses the scanner itself and the control room. Often, this trailer or medical suite will also contain a patient changing room. A mobile MRI is generally built in a medical semi-trailer that can be as large as 48’. The medical trailer itself can be transported to various locations if needed. Nonetheless, if a healthcare facility can support a mobile MRI being directly connected to the hospital or urgent care building, then it often is. Obviously, this is slightly different from your standard or traditional MRI machine, which is stationary.
Typically, there are several situations when a mobile or portable MRI can be advantageous. The most common circumstance is when the healthcare facility doesn’t have enough space/square footage to house a traditional MRI machine. Here, a mobile MRI can solve this problem by being located outside the building in its own self-contained trailer. Not only does this save on construction costs, but it also allows the hospital or clinic to use its square footage for other things.
Another scenario where a mobile MRI may come in handy is in small or rural communities. When a single hospital or healthcare facility doesn’t have a significant number of patients regularly, it’s hard to justify the cost of a traditional MRI machine. As a result, many smaller facilities will split the price of a mobile MRI with a neighboring healthcare provider or two. This allows everyone on the route to have access to this medical equipment. With that said, this situation normally requires additional staff, a driver, and a tractor for seamless transportation.
A mobile MRI can also be rented by healthcare facilities. In this situation, a facility has entered into a short-term rental agreement to have access. This often occurs when a traditional or stationary MRI breaks or needs to be replaced, but the cost of doing so is simply too much for the facility. Alternatively, if a hospital or large medical clinic is undergoing renovations, a mobile MRI can help avoid service disruption.
Cost of a Mobile MRI
This may seem like a lot of back and forth for one piece of medical equipment. But then, the reality is that a non-mobile MRI is very expensive. Furthermore, repair/replacement costs can easily range from $250,000 to $2,500,000+. Yet, a healthcare facility can purchase a brand-new and fully operational portable MRI for as little as $475,000. What’s more, you can also find refurbished portable MRIs that are reasonably priced and a fraction of the cost of a stationary machine. That said, there are additional costs associated with both a traditional and a mobile MRI. It’s important to keep that in mind when you’re trying to decide if you should buy a mobile MRI or a stationary MRI for your facility.
Portable MRI Benefits
While you’re mulling that over, it may be helpful to look at the many benefits that come with investing in a mobile MRI. For instance, your healthcare clinic can save millions by sharing the cost of a portable MRI. This is actually extremely advantageous because when there are technological advances, you don’t have to rely on the old way of doing things because you bought a stationary MRI. Instead, you and the other healthcare provider helping cover the current cost can agree that it’s time to invest in the latest model. Moreover, mobile MRI machines are a great way to provide care to older patients or ones who are unable to travel to the hospital for a scan. Other notable benefits of a mobile MRI include more affordable installation costs, shorter wait times for patients, and less required maintenance.
Nevertheless, before you purchase a mobile or portable MRI, it’s crucial that you know what your actual options are. In fact, there are only a few select models and makes that are permitted for mobile use. If you’re not sure which make or model your facility needs, you know what to do first. Similarly, if you have general questions regarding portable MRIs, you should contact your local mobile MRI and medical equipment dealer for further assistance.
Maintenance and Service
Lastly, one caveat to be mindful of is that mobile units have service fees. Moreover, some portable MRI rental contracts only cover the machine or equipment and not the trailer. Do your research before you sign any rental agreements or purchase a mobile MRI machine for your healthcare facility.
Ultimately, this information will lead you in the right direction when it comes to purchasing, or possibly renting a mobile MRI machine. But then, you should still do some research to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. That said, if you’re leaning toward a brand-new non-portable MRI, you might want to consult your budget. Remember, portable or mobile MRIs are truly the more cost-effective and budget-friendly solution here.