Estimating and maintaining a patient traffic baseline is a cornerstone for anyone managing a medical imaging facility. Staffing, reimbursements, capital purchases- all of these aspects of the field are affected in some way by the number of patients your imaging equipment will serve over a given time period.
If your market research has you considering the purchase of a PET/CT scanner, there are a few things you should know about scan times and patient throughput that are unique to this equipment.
The Time Difference
Throughput on a PET/CT is dictated far more by the constraints of the PET scanner than the CT. Depending on the type of study being done, the actual scan time on a CT can be anywhere from a few seconds to 5 minutes. The scan time on a PET generally falls into the 15 - 35 minute range. Essentially, once the CT portion of the scan is done, the equipment, the staff, and the scanning suite are all waiting for the PET to get done.
Depending on the traffic estimate we mentioned earlier, you may find yourself best served by one of the following options:
High-Traffic Scenario: Whether your traffic is high because of the raw numbers or because of limitations in your operating hours, you'll probably want to purchase a standalone CT scanner in addition to your PET/CT. This will enable you to maintain the CT throughput you need without infringing on any of the time your PET patients may need.
A "bonus" you may find helpful from time-to-time is that the CT portion of your PET/CT can be available to catch overflow in the case of an unusually busy CT schedule.
Low-Traffic Scenario: If your market research indicates a lower average patient load for either/both CT and PET scanning, a PET/CT scanner by itself may be a 2-in-1 option that can fill both needs.
For now, the best cure for the PET/CT time bottleneck is proper market research. Whether or not the expected patient traffic at your facility will necessitate a standalone CT in addition to a PET/CT, thoroughly analyzing the market data on hand can help you avoid the costly repercussions of underbuying or overbuying your medical imaging equipment.
If you'd like to know more about PET, CT, or PET/CT equipment, we're happy to help- contact us! If you'd like a helpful tool to help your research along, try the banner below to access our 2014 Radiology Reimbursement Calculator and build an estimate of the revenue your equipment can produce.