Whether you are looking to add a cardiac CT scanner to your practice or upgrade your current CT scanner to one that will qualify for cardiac CT ACR accreditation and, thus, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, one thing is certain:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have done you no favors with their reimbursement cuts for medical imaging techniques in the 2014 Medicare Fee Schedule Final Rule.
In fact, CMS cuts – made every year since 2007 – combined with legislative cuts in the same time frame have reduced funding for many common examinations up to 50%. Yet, the obvious benefits of CT imaging for heart patients mean that doctors and medical providers alike will continue to use cardiac CT technology to help save lives. They will just have to do so in a more economically viable manner.
That's where the refurbished equipment industry comes in. We acquire used cardiac CTs and refurbish them to OEM specifications and – in essence – give them a second chance. In doing so, we give hospitals and imaging centers across the country the ability to serve their customers in a fiscally responsible way. Block Imaging can't speak for other equipment providers but, depending on the model, we can often save you between 30-50% of the cost of a new scanner.
Not only are refurbished cardiac CTs more affordable, they still meet the specifications needed to be reimbursed by both Medicare and Medicaid just like new scanners. For cardiac purposes, the CT scanner should meet or exceed the following specifications, per the American College of Radiology:
Contrast-enhanced cardiac CT by MDCT, including CT coronary arteriography, a scanner capable of achieving in-plane spatial resolution ≤0.5 x 0.5 mm axial, z-axis spatial resolution ≤1 mm longitudinal, and temporal resolution ≤0.25 sec.
Non-contrast-enhanced MDCT for coronary artery calcium scoring may be adequately performed on a scanner with a temporal resolution of 0.50 second using prospectively ECG-triggered “step and shoot” sequential acquisition.
Tube heat capacity should be adequate. Minimum section thickness: should be ≤5 mm; but ≤3 mm for coronary calcium scoring and ≤1.5 mm for CT coronary arteriography.
Also, in order to maximize the CT interpretation, any CT scanner used for cardiac CT must allow display and interpretation of the full 12 bits (from -1,000 to 3,095 Hounsfield units) of attenuation information. Additionally the display FOV must be sufficient to assess the cardiovascular region of interest, and adjacent structures.
Whether your preference is a water-cooled or air-cooled scanner, or if GE, Philips, Siemens, or Toshiba is the manufacturer you're most loyal to, the refurbished equipment market can offer you scanner options that meet both the requirements of your equipment budget and the nation's regulatory organizations.
If you have more questions about cardiac CT equipment, pricing, or requirements, we're happy to help. Contact us today. Be sure to read up on cardiac CT accessories as well to succeed in accreditation!