If you've searched this topic, then you probably already know: Demand for MRI scans for veterinary diagnosis has never been higher, and it's only going up. And we don't mean just for large animals, or exotic animals, or purebred show animals that represent significant sums of money. More and more, veterinary customers are asking for high-level imaging of the family dog or kitty cat.
Still, even with demand rising, an MRI machine is a significant capital investment. So, how is a veterinarian to know when they should take the leap and make an MRI purchase? Below, we share three indicators for veterinarians that it might be worth their while to bring an MRI machine into their practice.
When to Buy an MRI Machine for Your Veterinary Practice
If You Are Outsourcing MRI Scans
If you're responding to MRI demand by sending your patients to be scanned elsewhere, you should explore what it might take to bring that capability in-house. Much of the imaging performed on animals is paid for out-of-pocket, but many owners are more than willing to pay. Additionally, there are an increasing number of insurance options that cover pets and will reimburse vet providers for imaging scans. Depending on the reimbursement rate in your area and the type of MRI system you purchase, it may only take 3-4 scans per month to cover the system investment.
If You Want Quicker, More Accurate Diagnosis
MRI systems are very good at highlighting issues with the brain or spinal cord. Many animals experiencing seizures or issues walking would be great candidates for an MRI scan to accurately diagnose the issue. Quicker and more accurate diagnosis that doesn't require a referral, travel, or an additional appointment could save an animal's life, and definitely instills confidence in your practice. The speed and accuracy of MRI can also save owners stress, worry, and repeat visits over conditions that are otherwise difficult to diagnose.
If You Have Space for an MRI
If you have demand, and you have the space to meet it without an extensive remodel, you're doubly well-suited to begin offering MRI scans at your practice. If you're thinking in this direction but aren't quite sure your building has the square footage, you should know that you might be closer to having the space you need than you think. There are a number of MRI options that have smaller footprints than other systems you may have seen. Some closed, 1.5T MRI systems, like the GE 1.5T EXCITE HDe are designed with more compact spaces in mind.
On another note, veterinary imaging is not subject to the same regulations as human imaging. This means there is no particular magnet strength you're required to use in order to qualify for reimbursement. This opens up the possibility of choosing an open MRI system at a lower magnet strength and a smaller space requirement. Examples include the HItachi Airis II and the Philips Panorama.
A third option that saves space and gets you scanning quicker, is renting a mobile MRI trailer. This option requires no interior square footage, eliminates remodeling, enables sharing between clinics and practices, and, if you're on the fence about a permanent MRI installation for your practice, lets you test the market in your area.
Ultimately, the decision to implement MRI scanning at your veterinary practice comes down to a careful analysis of your individual circumstances. MRI is not for every vet, but there are places where opportunity is being missed.
If you'd like to talk to someone about what an MRI purchase or rental might look like at your facility, our team is ready to help you find the best system, estimate your ROI, plan installation, and arrange for ongoing service. To learn more, use the banner below to tell us what you're looking for, or call us at 517-668-8800