by Adam Fairbourn, MBA, CNMT
Vizient Senior Portfolio Executive, Diagnostic Imaging

There’s a variety of factors in play that are increasing the demand for diagnostic imaging at hospitals and health systems across the nation. COVID-19 has created major implications for workflow and testing demands as elective procedures stopped and started. Shifting sites of care, new construction, staffing shortages, expanded service offerings and community outreach are also contributing to increasing demand and the need for flexible solutions. As hospitals consider how to best meet this growing demand, many are considering mobile interim diagnostic imaging solutions. 

The solution provides MRI, CT, PET/CT or cardiovascular imaging systems that are typically parked outside a facility or attached to the facility via a prefabricated, movable and temporary structure. It provides an alternative to purchasing and owning the equipment directly from the manufacturer.

Since contracts for these services are for large and complex medical equipment, the procurement process may require some in-depth analysis to find the right fit. If your organization is considering a mobile interim imaging solution, here are some key considerations to select the right solution for your organization. 

What equipment and services are needed

Determining what imaging equipment and related services your organization will need as its mobile interim solution are the first, and maybe the most important step. Understanding your organization’s current and future needs will streamline your evaluation of options, and in some cases, lead you to multiple equipment arrangements. You will want to consult with clinical and other teams to determine the following: 

  • What clinical functionality is needed 
  • Which specialties will request tests
  • What functions do those tests require
  • What associated services and staff are needed
  • Are there pharmaceutical implications
  • Are there biomedical considerations
  • How might this affect existing or new accreditations
  • How does this affect the timing and availability of testing

When the equipment is needed

Exactly when the mobile or interim imaging equipment is needed might be the most challenging question to contemplate as you undergo the procurement process. Lead times for getting the equipment onsite and running may vary by up to as much as six months depending on the type of equipment needed, site adjustments, staffing considerations, etc., so determining a start date is important before engaging with suppliers to discuss options. Answering the questions above as well as consulting with clinical administrators to understand the timing for new or expanded sites of care as well as community outreach efforts will help establish the needed start date. 

In addition, consider market demands, such as what days or weeks are best to have a mobile imaging solution available. Consider how long the mobile imaging solution will be needed and consult with clinical and other teams to estimate how many exams will be performed per day or week and if additional staffing or supplies are needed to support this extra capacity. These details will help you establish a contract length and pricing arrangement to best meet your organization’s current and future needs. 

What are the site and safety requirements?

After determining what equipment is needed and when it’s time to discuss the site and safety requirements for possible solutions. Mobile interim diagnostic imaging equipment requires explicit siting requirements such as space, power supply, ground gradients, etc. Learn about all safety and access considerations for the equipment. 

Many vendors will provide siting requirements to prospective customers but consider including your facilities team in those conversations to mitigate assumptions and miscalculations that could derail progress. At a minimum, you will need to plan for space, power and logistics required for a mobile imaging solution at your organization. 

For best results, make sure your planning includes how patients will safely and conveniently access the equipment and who will oversee replenishing necessary supplies at the site.

What terms, conditions and pricing are available

The pricing structure of mobile interim diagnostic imaging services varies based on factors such as geographical location, the number of tests, length of the contract term, any customized or advanced technology requests and potentially even supply cost. 

Since mobile interim imaging solutions can be a combination of equipment and professional services used for direct patient care, some key terms and conditions to contemplate include insurance, liability, indemnity, warranties, service maintenance of equipment and payment terms. Contract term length, renewal options and upgrades also are important terms to consider alongside pricing proposals. 

Keep in mind that terms and conditions should be in place to fit the specific operational priorities of your facility. For example, a large health system on the West Coast required a mobile PET/CT solution to meet the weekly patient demand of these services. When working with a vendor on uptime guarantee terms, an important consideration was that uptime to calculated based on a daily 10-hour schedule that the PET/CT system planned to utilize. This consideration ensured that the equipment would be working properly and ready for a full patient schedule on the days and times that this facility needed it.

The cumulation of terms, conditions and pricing make up the total value offering for mobile interim imaging services, and the whole is typically more than the sum of its parts. The best value is typically achieved by strategically partnering with a vendor for a longer-term contract arrangement.

Maximizing the value of a mobile interim diagnostic imaging solution is about finding the right fit of equipment and services that complement your organization and the patients you serve. Understanding what you need, when you need it and why streamlines the process of selecting a vendor that provides the right value proposition for your organization. Informed decisions are the best decisions, so don’t skip getting the information needed to choose the right mobile interim solution.

About the author: Adam Fairbourn is a senior portfolio executive on the diagnostic imaging team at Vizient. Leveraging his technical and clinical background, Adam manages a portfolio of sourcing agreements in the diagnostic imaging product and services category. He works closely with industry partners and Vizient members to strategically align sourcing contracts that create value in the diagnostic imaging space.

Published: July 27, 2021