Imaging Equipment Is Not All Created Equal
VitalRads Radiology Pearls
You are shopping at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas for a new digital x-ray system and an ultrasound machine for your practice. As you enter the exhibit hall, you quickly notice there are a lot of vendors that all want the same thing – to “sell you a box.” In your case, the “boxes” are going to be a digital x-ray system and an ultrasound machine. Where do you start? How do you get the best deal? The most bang for your buck? How do you avoid getting taken advantage of? You are NOT an expert in DR systems, that latest and greatest in ultrasound, or a DICOM expert. What’s a vet to do? Here is some advice and pointers:
- Consult someone that IS an imaging expert. This would be a radiologist and one that is very familiar with new technology in ultrasound, DR systems, and knows the ins’ and outs’ of DICOM. Notice, I specifically mentioned a radiologist! It makes little to no sense to consult with an internist, surgeon or other specialist on imaging equipment, no more than I would ask a radiologist’s opinion on what endoscope to buy or new surgical equipment. The training of a radiologist makes them the expert in imaging equipment, including radiology, ultrasound, CT, and MRI.
- If you ask the opinion of a local colleague, be prepared to get only positive feedback about some equipment they have recently purchased. Why? If they truly think what they bought was a bad decision and the imaging quality is poor, will they really admit to making this mistake and risk having one of the competitors purchasing something that is better? Probably not. It is probably smarter to get an opinion of the practice manager or head technician that actually uses this equipment day in a day out. You are more likely to get an honest opinion from them than from the veterinarian owner that made a purchasing mistake.
- No one company makes the best of everything. The human radiologists figured this out a long time ago and it is what lead to the DICOM standard. For example, “ABC, Corp.” may have the absolute best CT machine, but they likely do not also have the best ultrasound machine or MR machine. Don’t get sucked into the belief that a single brand or company has the best of everything. They don’t.
- Nothing is free in life. Diagnostic imaging equipment is no exception. If you are “given” a free DR system, you can bet the company that is “gifting” you this system is making up this money somewhere else (such as higher or future escalating fees on lab work, etc.). If you do the math on such deals, in most cases, you are just financing out this “free” equipment with a very high interest rate (20% or higher is common).
- You get what you pay for. Just as with cars, furniture or even jewelry, you tend to get what you pay for. If you purchase the cheapest machine, it will almost certainly lack in quality, features, DICOM compatibility, service, support … something. I have spoken with hundreds of veterinarians that have purchased cheap, poor quality equipment and wished they had spent a little more to get something they can be proud of that will last over time.