There are many factors to consider when you are adding or replacing an MRI machine. The following tips should be used as a general guide for your purchase. Besides your local purchase department, you can also consider Meridian Leasing as a resource for any questions you have regarding purchasing or leasing an MRI.
Basic Types of MRI Machines
First, you should consider if your clinical practice requires a 1.5T or 3.0T scanner. An advantage with a 3.0T MRI machine is that they have great resolution, however exams can take longer to acquire and the weight of the system may be an issue depending on where you plan to install the unit. Typically, a 3.0T scanner will have additional use in neurology, prostate, extremity (hands, wrist), and breast exams. If a 1.5T MRI machine is sufficient for your facility, then the next consideration to be made should be whether you need a closed or open MRI machine. There are many good high field open 1.5T MRI on the market, but you should consider the extended scan times that are required for an open scanner versus a closed short bore system. Closed 1.5T systems come in various bore sizes as well. Older scanners tend to be around 60cm, while newer systems are now 70cm in size. There are also ultrashort bore scanners that are not as deep as their counterparts and only a bit longer than a typical CT scanner.
1. Details of the MRI Purchase
Ask your Purchasing Department to do an RFI (request for information) and an RFP (request for pricing). These two documents are sent to the vendors so that you gather information about the MRI machines that they offer. The RFI should include all of the hardware, software, advanced applications, and coils that you need. You should include all of the major MRI manufacturers on the RFI. Based on the vendor responses, you should develop a shortlist of two or three vendors that will complete the RFP. Again, include all of the items listed above and avoid specific software names on the RFP. Keep the naming conventions generic, ask for line-item pricing and any associated shipping/rigging charges. It is helpful to include all additional hardware/software as options on any quotes you receive. In the long run, this will be helpful in the decision of whether to add items that were originally considered as an option for the purchase. The RFP will assist you to get the best MRI machine price available. Ask the vendors about any new technology that they have on their latest scanners and if it has any clinical, efficiency, or workflow advantages to the patient exam. Pull all of this information together on one spreadsheet. This will assist with bringing the information to your stakeholders (radiologists, purchasing managers, and technologists) for their final input and recommendations.
2. MRI Equipment– System Configuration
Investigate all of the advanced software applications and sequences that are available on the MRI machine that you are considering. There are many different names for sequences based on the make and model of the system. Make certain that the software that you are purchasing meets your clinical need for the exams you intend to perform. The radiologists and technologists are a great resource to include in the process to guide you on which software and hardware to include on your purchase. Care should be taken so you do not over-purchase software that will not be used clinically.
Have the vendors assist you with matching the RF coils with the clinical exams that you will be performing. A general list of coils should include simple surface coils, cardiac, vascular, breast, neuro and neurovascular, transmit-receive, small parts, and specialty coils.
3. Sales Presentations and Stakeholder Meetings
It is critical to get your team together to see sales presentations and separate stakeholder meetings to discuss each system that you are considering to purchase. Invite the top two or three top vendors to prepare a sales presentation and invite your key stakeholders to the meeting. It is also helpful to solicit questions from your team ahead of time so that you can steer the presentation towards the clinical issues your team finds important to solve or the business needs for the purchase. Lastly, have a meeting with the stakeholders after the sales presentations. Allow them all to vote for the MRI machine that they want to purchase. There is no harm in involving your business development team throughout the process. They can help you drive your business faster than on your own.
4. Contracting Details
Ask vendors specific questions about siting the MRI machine, freight charges, additional rigging fees, and special ventilation or cooling that is required for their MRI machine. Furthermore, question the vendor about weight issues with installing in various locations in your facility. Some scanners, like a 3.0T, require additional floor support to handle the additional weight of the MRI machine, and the vendor can provide you with this information before acquiring the machine.
5. Installation, Siting, and Additional Accessories
Include your facilities management team before you make your final decision as some MRI machines are more difficult to site than others. Shipping and rigging of the system need to be negotiated ahead of time and are required in the system purchase. In addition, if you choose a 3.0T scanner than the planned location you choose may be restricted because of the system weight. You can ask the vendor to include power injectors, heart rate monitors, and MR safe infusion pumps on the purchase, but you may save a substantial amount of money if you work directly with accessory companies for those purchases.
We hope these five steps will assist in making your MRI machine purchase a bit smoother. Consider Meridian Leasing a resource for any questions you have regarding purchasing or leasing an MRI. Call +1 (888) 684-3644 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or to speak with a medical equipment specialist.