Before buying your next Ultrasound review these 6 things
Buying an Ultrasound is a big financial investment for many facilities. Some facilities have big budgets and are looking for the newest, latest and greatest with all the bells and whistles, while others want the higher-end technology but must do so on a smaller budget.
There are many great opportunities out and a good deal of ultrasound systems to choose from.
So where do you start?
*Caveat – It is, of course, very important to work with a reliable, trustworthy company to help you during this process.
1. Consider your Budget
When beginning your search for you new ultrasound equipment, you should first identify and know what your budget is for this equipment.
You should seriously consider the difference between paying cash or leasing.
This is essentially the difference of budgeting for tens of thousands of dollars paying in full, or determining a relatively easy to afford monthly payment. This can be compared to buying a car, and in most cases you are getting much more car when you lease. With a lease you will get more ultrasound machine for your dollar. If you pay cash you may not be able to come up with that additional $10,000 for the exact system that you want, but if you lease that $10,000 is only another $200 per month. This may be as simple as an additional 2 to 4 patients.
There are some inherent benefits to leasing besides a smaller, affordable monthly payment. The Tax Rule 179 allows you to write off $25,000 of this lease in the first year.
A lease is simply a good business solution, giving you the tax write off, a low monthly payment, and the opportunity to get more machine for you buck.
2. How will you be using this Ultrasound?
Identify Specific Use:
I would actually consider this as a more important part of your decision process than the budget. I addressed budget first, as many tend to always go to price before anything.
When buying an ultrasound you need to know how you intend to use this ultrasound. Not all ultrasounds are built alike. If your friend Dr. Smith the OB/GYN down the street has a GE Voluson E8, and loves the image quality, this doesn’t mean that this system is going to work for your Cardiology practice.
So identify your specific use. Are you using this for Point of Care, Cardiology, Vascular, OBGYN, Urology, Pain Management, MSK, or General Purpose.
3. Which features, probes and software features will you need?
Once you identify your use, you can get even more refined, and begin identifying specific important features that you may want.
Special Features and Software Options:
Some of these special features could include, 3D/4D, Live Baby Face Imaging, AUTO IMT for Vascular which helps to automatically measure the intima, Speckle Reduction Imaging, Advanced Speckle Reduction Imaging, Spatial Compound Imaging, Elastography and the list goes on.
If you already know what kind of probes you prefer, this would be an important time to document this as well.
*Many of these above points may be confusing and beyond your knowledge of ultrasound. This is where it is very important that you have selected a reliable, trustworthy company to work with. This is when they will help you find the right ultrasound with the right configuration to meet your specific need.
4. Portable or Console
At this point you have identified how you are going to use the ultrasound, the probes you want, and the the features you want. Now it is time to determine if a portable or console is the right choice for your specific needs.
When making the decision for a portable, you should really ask yourself one question: Are you going to take the ultrasound out of the office to use outside of the office? If you answer yes, and that you will need this ultrasound to be mobile – then a portable mobile ultrasound may be the best answer.
If you are planning to take the ultrasound out of the office, we should follow up with another question. Is this going to go between two offices, or are you going to use this ultrasound in a mobile screening route, nursing homes, health fairs, or multiple offices (more than two)?
We want to be better able to identify the full use pattern of this ultrasound. If the ultrasound will be transported between two offices, then maybe it is best to look at buying two systems. Or if you decide to go with portable, then it may be necessary to get two carts.
The primary focus of Portable vs. Console Ultrasound comes down to features and image quality. It is true that there are some very nice portable systems available with very impressive image quality. However, not all portables are built to these standards, and most times you will sacrifice image quality for portability.
- Portable Ultrasound will typically not have the same Image quality as a console ultrasound.
- Portable Ultrasound will typically not have the same probe selection as a console Ultrasound
- Portable Ultrasound will typically have limited software features and options as compared to a Console Ultrasound.
- With a Portable Ultrasound you will be stuck working on a small keyboard and viewing on a small monitor.
- Portable Ultrasound will have almost same footprint as a console Ultrasound. In most cases a cart will be needed for the portable Ultrasound.
Of course, if you need to be mobile than the Portable Ultrasound is the best choice for you. But, if you were considering a Portable Ultrasound (laptop style) because you think that it has a smaller footprint, then you may want to think again. The two images below will show you a Portable Ultrasound on a cart, and a smaller console Ultrasound. You will see that the footprint of the two are almost identical.
So again ask yourself, do you really want to be limited to a small monitor, small keyboard, and limited options, especially if you are going to be using in your office. Most will determine that it is better to go with a console and not portable.
5. Selection of the correct Ultrasound for your particular need
You have identified the trustworthy, reliable company that you are going to work with to help you find your ultrasound. You have also identified 4 key points to finding your ultrasound. Budget – Lease vs Cash, Specific Use for your specialty, Probes and Software Features, and finally Console vs Portable.
You are now ready to begin the ultrasound system selection.
Working with your Ultrasound Specialist, you will determine all of the Needs vs Wants – and you will make sure that the system you pick out will for sure have every single one of your needs, and as many wants as your budget can allow for.
Needs will be specialty specific and things you cannot do without. Your wants will be extras that would be nice if you had but not a deal-breaker if you didn’t.
A need is easy to identify based on the specialty and use required of the system, a want is more of a personal or business decision. As an example, an OB/GYN specialty NEEDS a 2D Convex and an Endo-Cavity transducer, but WANTS a 3D/4D Convex. This office can do without the 3D/4D but they would like to consider having it and offering it as an added value to their patients. Another WANT in this case could be the Live Baby Face software to go along with their 4D technology transducer.
Step 1 of the selection process will be to identify a system with every NEED and every WANT.
Step 2 in the selection process will be to identify the system that has every NEED but none of the WANTS.
Step 3 in the selection process will be to identify the system that has a nice balance of NEEDS and WANTS.
This could be one Ultrasound system with multiple configurations, or this could be multiple Ultrasound systems each with a different strength as the the specific configurations.
The primary goal is to fit the best system for your particular NEED, balanced with as many WANTS as the BUDGET can then afford. If the lease option is selected, then it will be possible to afford more system for a relatively small monthly investment amount.
6. How do you calculate a Lease Amount
A lease amount is always based on the individual approval and credit score. However, an easy rule to use when considering an standard lease (60 month) is to multiply $20 for every $1000 of cost. So when you run into a situation where you want everything in STEP 1 above, which has all of your NEEDS and WANTS, you may find yourself with an Ultrasound selection that may be $10,000 to $20,000 more than you budget CASH for. With a lease for $10,000 you will see an additional $200 (+ or -) of monthly investment needed, which in practical terms may only be 3 or 4 patient scans per month.
If you were to pay cash, you may not be able to come up with the extra dollars and would have to settle on your NEEDS and potentially sacrifice your WANTS.
To discuss Ultrasound systems contact Jeff Rubinoff at Complete Medical Services.
For further detail regarding other imaging equipment contact Complete Medical Services Tony Orlando President for reviews and more information.