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MR service contracts: choosing the appropriate coverage

November 20, 2014
Katie Regan
From the October 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Loretta Loncoske

Navigating coverage decisions can be overwhelming and confusing, especially for high-end imaging equipment, where service contracts depend heavily on a combination of several different factors. This uncertainty has only been magnified as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began enforcing strict compliance for equipment manufacturers’ maintenance protocols and schedules in 2010. While this should increase hospital accountability and patient safety, it also requires significant upfront costs. The Joint Commission estimates this change will cost the health care industry $2 to 5 billion. In addition to CMS compliance, there is potential for lost revenue if equipment experiences downtime, and also liability consequences when equipment malfunctions occur due to improper preventive maintenance.

Service contracts for MR scanners, like any equipment, will depend on the specific model, equipment age and hours of coverage desired, but there are five major factors that influence MR coverage:

• Magnet field strength
• Cryogen (helium)
• MR Coils
• Chiller
• Hours of coverage required for Principle Cover Period and PMs

Each of these factors can influence coverage and service costs in different ways, but in general magnetic field strength is the driving factor behind the cost of both service contracts and capital.

Factor specifics
Magnetic Field Strength

Listed below are the price ranges for service contracts broken down by magnetic field strength otherwise known as Tesla Level. In general, MR magnetic field strength can be broken down by high field, low field, intraoperative and specialty MRs.

High field 3.0T MRs are designed for research and large facilities for advanced imaging applications such as functional imaging and spectroscopy. These also include wide bore systems. High field 1.5T MRs are designed for high-volume clinical settings or those requiring advanced imaging options. HFO MRs are super conductive MR systems that operate between 1 T and 1.2T, and are utilized for whole body applications, mainly bariatric, offset main MR extremity exams and claustrophobic patients.

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