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With X-ray reimbursement on the line, four health systems move toward portable DR

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | November 20, 2017
Digital Radiography X-Ray
From the November 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Loma Linda University Medical Center

Loma Linda University Medical Center
In 2014, Loma Linda University Medical Center, which operates six hospitals in California, joined a program offered by Agfa HealthCare to help them transition to DR. The “Fast Forward to DR Program” was designed to meet the needs of facilities lacking the immediate capital to upgrade and involves a unique cost structure in which the facility pays fixed monthly payments over a 60-month period.

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Although it chose to only retrofit its CR rooms, facilities can also retrofit portable CR systems as part of the Fast Forward program. Taking into account all of the variables and options, the price of a DR retrofit is about 30 percent to 40 percent of the cost of a new system, according to an Agfa spokesperson.

Through the program, in addition to installing 11 DX-D retrofit systems to convert its existing CR-based rooms to DR technology, Loma Linda also acquired five new wireless DX-D 100 portable DR systems.

Like other health systems, Loma Linda quickly discovered the advantages of the simplified DR workflow. In addition to saving an average of eight minutes and 10 seconds per image, the facilities were also able to reduce the number of technologists needed to conduct certain exams from two with CR to only one with DR.

What made the decision to upgrade a “no-brainer,” according to Roland Rhynus, executive director of radiology at Loma Linda, was the fact that the monthly payments were only marginally higher than what the health system paid to maintain its CR technology.

The transition essentially paid for itself because Loma Linda was able to reallocate the workflow savings from utilizing DR to cover the expense of the program.

Although retrofitting a CR system is the more affordable option, it doesn’t offer the same level of productivity as a new DR system.

Agfa offers 20, 32, 40 and 50 kilowatt DR systems, but the average portable CR is only 12.5 kilowatts. According to the Agfa spokesperson, the portable DRs are close to an X-ray room on wheels, especially for spine and trauma imaging, and even a retrofitted system can’t compare with that.

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