If your CR reader has been in service for a number of years, the title of this blog may be the kind of equipment decision you'll be faced with in the very near future. However, just like all those imaging directors years ago that first faced the decision of moving from film processing to CR, you know that this decision isn't so much a question of one product being better than the other (if you're unfamiliar with the benefits of DR, click here), rather, it's a question of timing. Is right now a strategically sound time to take the leap into a digital X-ray system?
Keep reading for details on cost, ROI, and workflow management that might help clarify what you're getting into as you approach this decision.
CR Repair Costs
The most expensive component that fails on a CR is the optics module. Service calls, parts, and down time to repair this issue can run between $3,000 to $6,000. Downtime, or the fear of prolonged downtime, is a significant consideration in aging CR equipment.
CR Replacement Costs
Block Imaging has quite a bit of history in providing refurbished CR. A newer refurbished CR system, workstation, and cassettes can cost between $12,000 and $17,000. If you would like to purchase a brand-new system, the price tag for a shiny new CR right out of the box would be $22,000 to $35,000. .
DR Upgrade Costs
Another option to consider is going to a flat panel detector for direct digital images. DR panels are available tethered (a significant cost savings) or wireless (a significant versatility advantage). As technology has advanced the cost of these panels has decreased. The strength behind this technology is the workstation and the power of the imaging software. In addition, a few of the newer wireless panels are vendor-neutral and, with minor calibration during setup, can be used with any X-ray equipment from any manufacturer. Right now, 14x17 tethered digital panels range from $36,000 to $40,000 with wireless options between $47,000 and $50,000.
Impact on Workflow
One of the most prominent benefits of upgrading to DR panels is improved workflow and efficiency for radiology technicians. DR panels decrease study times with almost instantaneous preview images. This allows the technician to immediately determine if a retake is needed.
By way of example, the Vieworks ViVIX S wireless panel features automatic exposure detection (AED), which allows the panel to capture images every ½ second and displays an image preview in just 3 seconds. Think about the amount of time it takes for the a technician to remove a CR cassette from the bucky, walk it over to the CR reader, and process it. Unless you've hired Usain Bolt as your rad tech, it probably takes longer than 3 seconds.
ROI on Upgrade
With so many variables in effect, it takes some calculation on an individual basis to determine when a site will recup their initial investment and begin improving their bottom line with a DR panel. That said, with increased efficiency comes the flexibility to serve more patients and thereby garner more reimbursements. Essentially, if you are effective in using the time you save to fill out your patient schedule, your ROI will emerge much faster. To help you get started on these calculations, you can also take a look at our radiology reimbursement calculator.
Whatever your outlook for the coming year, there are options available that will help extend the life of your analog X-ray system with digital image processing. If your current CR system is failing, we can help with refurbished options and replacement parts. If you choose to upgrade to a new DR panel, we can help with that too. Contact us to start the conversation.