16 Questions You Should Ask About Your Imaging Center (As Told By Cats)

This week, we thought we’d give patients some assistance coming up with questions they should be asking when comparing imaging centers.  In order to make it a little bit more exciting, we thought we’d add some cats to the equation, because who doesn’t love funny internet cat photos? So take some notes, have a laugh and remember that when it comes to imaging centers… YOU HAVE A CHOICE. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

1. How do their prices compare to other imaging centers and hospitals in the area?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, you don’t have insurance? Yes, that will be one BILLION dollars please.”

2. Does the imaging center come recommended as a professional provider by other physicians in the community?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No this tie is not a clip on. They told us in med school to always dress professionally for patients.”

3. Are they accredited by the American College of Radiology? Do the radiologists have any special certifications or are they sub-specialized?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is my award for giving the best CAT scans. Get it… get it?”

4. Are the techs certified and have positive reviews online?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m here to help you feel at ease and answer your questions, is there anything you need right meow?”

5. Does the radiology center have up to date imaging technology?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I know this hardware looks intimidating, but I assure you, it is the best of the best.”

6. If additional testing is necessary, can they offer other advanced imaging services at their location? (Ex: CT scans, ultrasounds, DEXA bone density scans)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No ma’am, I am not ‘kitten’ you, we can certainly perform an MRI right after this CAT scan if your doctor requests it.”

7. Do they offer extended hours for patients who can only come in early in the morning, later in the evening or on weekends?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Is it 5:00 yet? Oh wait, we are open until 8:00! Silly me.”

8. Do they offer driving services for those patients who are unable to drive themselves to their appointments?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So Ms. Daisy, how has your day been so far?”

9. Is the office in a convenient and comfortable setting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Is this an imaging center, or a spa? I can’t tell. Ohhhh soft robes in the dressing room!”

10. Do they offer options for claustrophobic patients? Ex: Open MRI machines

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Excuse me… MRI tech lady… I think I feel a panic attack coming on.”

11. Can they squeeze you into their appointment schedule or does it take weeks to get in for tests?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I promise just let me sneak in on my lunch break. I’ll be in and out so quick you won’t even remember me.”

12. Do they give you easy and timely access to your imaging reports?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So what you’re going to do… is just login here. Click the mouse over there… and then, voila! Down at the bottom of the screen, see it? Your reports are right there.”

13. Are they available to your physician’s office to discuss reports and interpretations?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mhm, yes. What that little dark space on the MRI image means Dr. Meow Mix is…”

14. Do they make you “hang” out in the waiting room for a long time or are they known for their efficient processes?

hangin around

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey is it my turn yet? Seems like I’ve been hanging out here for hours. Do you at least have some magazines? Perhaps some yarn?”

15. Can you bring or request your own tunes to listen to while you’re being scanned?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ah, the sweet sound of Maroon 5 is much more appealing to my ears than the sound this MRI machine makes.”

16. Do they have radiologists on-site, available for consultations?

dr cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m not trying to look unamused, this is just my ‘listening face.’ I assure you.”

 

 

 

 

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How Comparing Health Costs Can Save You Money

No one wants to hear their doctor tell them they are going to need additional medical procedures, especially if they are uninsured. Talk about a day-ruiner.  When asked how much they thought a procedure like an MRI would cost them, most patients guessed around $4,000. That guess isn’t far off at some care providers, but we’re here to tell you that there are affordable options.

Uninsured radiology costsYour health is one of the most important things though, so no one wants to skimp on cost when their care is in question. The good news is that in healthcare, cost isn’t reflective of quality. Now this does complicate the consumer process, but if you know to shop around for more affordable options and take control of your care, you can save up to 80% on your procedures.

Let’s say your general practitioner recommends that you get an X-Ray of your ankle to determine if you broke it or simply sprained it. Your physician sends you next door to the hospital-owned imaging center, where they tell you your x-ray is going to cost about $200 out-of-pocket. They also inform you that there will likely be another bill headed your way a little while later for the radiologist’s “reading fee.”

When it’s all said and done, that x-ray could cost you as much as $350, just to confirm that you did in fact just sprain your ankle. Walking and talking at the same time can be hard sometimes, but who knew it could be that expensive!

Now, if you chose to shop around and compare x-ray costs at various imaging centers in your city, rather than simply going to the first suggestion for care, you would likely find an independent, outpatient imaging center with much lower rates. Why can those radiology providers offer such lower prices without sacrificing the quality of their care?

  1. They are able provide more personalized service since it’s in an outpatient setting
  2. They likely have on-site radiologists or a partnered physician group that reads for them
  3. They have more control of their costs
X-Ray Costs in Tampa, Florida

X-Ray Costs in Tampa, Florida

An x-ray of an ankle in Tampa, Florida for instance could cost up to $275 but our self-pay rates are between $75-$90 with no additional fees.  Think of all the money you could save yourself!

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Infographic: Radiology Facts

 

 

In the words of our marketing team; “These are like Snapple facts but better!”

Don’t tell us radiology facts aren’t fun. We put together this infographic sharing some random factoids about the diagnostic imaging industry. Some of these things, even we didn’t know! Now go forth and impress all your friends with your newfound radiology trivia prowess… Diagnostic Imaging Radiology Facts Feel free to share this infographic with your own followers!

 

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Real Patients Need Real Prices

With consumerism in healthcare on the rise and an increased focus on price transparency for health costs, our industry is looking at patients more and more as consumers. There are two real problems with that, one being that the way patients shop for health services is completely different than the way they shop for goods and the other being that each and every patient has their own unique situation based on their needs, their location and their coverage. Due to these factors, we are required to look at patients as people rather than consumers.

Some patients struggle to identify themselves as consumers in the health care shopping process, whether it is out of confusion, frustration or disinterest. Changes brought about by The Affordable Care Act however, have led people to take a more active role in comparing and selecting their care providers. With prices varying so much from state-to-state, city-to-city and even provider-to-provider however, it becomes seriously challenging for patients to know what is fair in terms of costs for procedures.

Our goal is to help reach out to real people so they can find real costs, not just estimates. When patients are relying solely on guesses to what their total will be versus a true price, they can end up with steep bills in the thousand-dollar range. No one likes those. Scouring the Twitter-sphere, trying to gain some real insight on how patients are reacting to health care costs, we realized a surprising amount of people using the social media forum as a sounding board to air their grievances with health costs. So we thought, we might as well answer their questions!

Steep MRI prices

Steep MRI prices don’t have to ruin your day!

 

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Dr. Jon Cohen on Consumerism in Health Care

We’re going into the vaults this week to bring back a TEDMED Video from 2012, where Dr. Jon Cohen, the CMO of Quest Diagnostics, discusses the nature of consumerism in health care. He makes a great analogy comparing the way Americans shop for their televisions to the way we “shop” for our doctors. He jokes about his friend shopping for a new HD-TV, reading online forums and review sites, learning about pixel sizes and external ports, asking him, “When did you get your PhD in TV’s?” He goes on to explain that once his friend finally selected the model he wanted to purchase, that he couldn’t simply buy the TV and move on. No, his friend needed to go to a few more stores to ensure that he got the best price on that TV.

Now, the average 50” HD TV is going to cost somewhere between $500 and $1,000, which is comparable to the cost of an MRI in Tampa, Florida, depending on where you would go for the procedure. So why wouldn’t you shop around for the MRI the same way you’d shop for your next TV?

“Did you know that the average American spends twice as much time researching what TV to buy than deciding which physician to choose?”

Cohen points out that shopping for a television is the ultimate consumer experience because it relies on three important components; the price of the product or service, its level of quality and the consumer’s desire for the product or service. Consumer-driven healthcare, on the other hand, is not so simple. The idea that consumerism in healthcare would lower costs was reliant on patients spending wisely, but it isn’t working out that way for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s normally assumed that price is a reflection of value, however the concept of value in health care is not easily recognized. Cohen says for instance that you should be able to discern the difference in value between a $20,000 car versus an $80,000 car. When it comes to diagnosing and treating patients however, two physicians could be paid the same amount, while one could have given the appropriate prescription and the other could have misdiagnosed the same patient.

The next issue is that the quality of a physician is very subjective, making it hard to tell the difference between Dr. A and Dr. B. Some patients judge a physician based on topical things like convenient parking, comfortable waiting rooms or even having snacks available. Cohen points out that these things are really more of a judgment of the practice’s level of service, rather than quality. He says that quality in medicine is truly an indication of experience and good judgment; unfortunately there are no consumer reports for patients to look up those metrics.

Lastly and probably most importantly, consumerism requires a certain level of consumer desire. Patients simply don’t want to have to spend their hard earned dollars on health care. Cohen said that out of a group of physicians surveyed, less than 50% had gotten their colonoscopy screenings, even after their organizations tried incentivizing them with $5,000 bonuses if they went in for their stress test, colonoscopy and annual physical.

He says that really, the only case where patients actively shop around for affordable medical procedures is when they are getting cosmetic surgery because it’s something they truly want and can see the quality of the results. Intense desire trumps all barriers, showing that if someone wants something badly enough, they are willing to go out of their way to find a deal.

 

You can watch the full video of Dr. Cohen’s speech here:

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