by Joanna Padovano
, Reporter | December 19, 2011
From the December 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
When being able to provide a service can literally mean the difference between life and death, downtime can be a big concern. Even downtime on less critical services can be an issue because of the possible financial impact. Fortunately, hospitals can obtain temporary solutions to meet their needs and the needs of their patients. Mobile service providers offer facilities flexibility and coverage with a wide range of imaging modalities such as MR, CT, PET, cath/angio, mammography and ultrasound.
So whether a hospital is in the process of upgrading existing equipment and needs to maintain patient throughput, is under construction, or has needed equipment unavailable for any reason, if they have a spot to host a trailer, they have a solution. In some cases, it just may be more economically viable for a facility to have a mobile service provider deliver services periodically instead of purchasing equipment.
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“If CFOs are having a hard time justifying a million-dollar acquisition of a piece of equipment because of the uncertainty of how it’s going to be utilized, maybe they should look to a company that can help supply flexible capacity,” says Ray Stachowiak, president of Shared Imaging. “If they have two MRs today and they’re trying to justify a third, what would be better? Having a third MR that in two years is only 40 percent utilized? Or maybe keep those two MRs and add two days of service a week on a mobile MR route, this way you’re increasing your capacity by 40 percent, and it’s 100 percent utilized.”
Mobile services may also be enlisted to help with outreach programs. “It’s a way [to provide] an enhanced, add-on service,” says Chad Smith, marketing director of Medical Coaches. Smith speaks from experience—his company has a mobile mammography clinic that travels around a community as an extension of the local hospital’s cancer center.
Although mobile outreach programs may prove to be a more long-term situation, in general, most mobile services are used for a finite period of time. “The majority of the business is what we call interim, which would be in that two weeks to two months range,” says Rich Dishman, executive vice president of MPX Sales and Service. “Two to eight weeks is where I would say 75 to 80 percent of the business happens.” Occasionally, it will last one to two years, he adds.
According to Smith, a typical mobile services trailer in the United States is approximately 48 feet long. The average length of a European medical coach is about six feet less, he says. Aside from the gantry area—where the scanner is located—the interior of each trailer typically also contains a control room and an injection area.