The famous saying says, “You have to spend money to make money.” That may be true in the game of Monopoly, the actual real estate market, or just about any industry you can think of, but it is not necessarily the case with C-arms. You can spend anywhere from $10,000 (as-is, where-is) to $400,000 (fully-digital, just out of the factory) on your initial equipment purchase, but spending more money won’t garner you bigger reimbursements.
Of course, that’s not to say that the least expensive C-arm is always the best choice. Depending on your approach to C-arm use, your initial cost may or may not make a difference in your return on investment.
A Case for Refurbished C-Arms
Say you’re performing facet injections for pain management, or perhaps a vascular study; even though these procedures are reimbursed at different dollar amounts, those dollar amounts are the same whether the work was done on a 1997 C-arm or a 2017 C-arm. If you opt for a less expensive system, you could have six figures worth of capital you can find a home for somewhere else in your budget!
Alternatively, maybe you’re with a start-up facility testing a market. You don’t necessarily want to spend the capital up-front for the latest and greatest, but fortunately, the system you can lay out for right now will bring in the same reimbursement dollars as the one you may want some time down the line.
Watch this video for model-by-model pricing on refurbished C-Arms:
A Case for New C-Arms
Perhaps you are in a very competitive market and it seems like a refurbished C-arm might not stack up against the equipment being leveraged in your surrounding area. It's possible that going with the latest and greatest from the get-go might make more sense for you. New technologies continue to emerge in the field and, when properly maintained by a qualified service provider, a late-model C-arm lasts quite a long time.
At the same time, it is important for you to know that the refurbished C-arm market also offers late-model options with features and application packages competitive with those of brand-new systems. With the help of a quality refurbishment vendor, you can purchase a used C-arm- just a few years old- that has been returned to OEM factory specifications for performance and image quality. What’s more, reimbursement rates for C-arm procedures have stayed pretty stable, allowing for reliable estimates of how long it will take a C-arm to pay for itself. At the prices for refurbished C-arms, those estimates are all but guaranteed to be much shorter.
In the long run, individual circumstances will dictate the needs of any site considering the purchase of a C-arm. A number of concerns will come into play, but differing reimbursement rates should not be among them. Whether you choose a brand-new unit, a fully-refurbished late-model system, or something a touch older- you can expect to see consistent reimbursement rates from C-arm to C-arm.
Written by Chris Sharrock
Chris Sharrock is the Fluoroscopy Product Manager at Block Imaging. Sometimes referred to as the “The C-Arm Guy”, Chris has a passion for music, fitness and genuinely enjoys helping others make decisions about c-arms and fluoroscopy equipment. You can download Chris’ very popular “C-Arm Buyer’s Guide” or connect with him here.