Recent events have put a strain on the healthcare industry. Particularly, the ongoing health crisis has stretched the sector’s resources far too thin, highlighting the need to cut costs. That said, financial cost-cutting has been a topic in many discussions for years now, with or without a pandemic.
When it comes to reducing expenses, medical equipment, and apparatus are among the first articles scrutinized. While they are helpful in making diagnoses, they also make up a significant chunk of any hospital’s operational costs.
64-Slice, 256-Slice, and 320-Slice CT Systems
Retaining the standard 64-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner or upgrading to 256- and 320-slice systems has been a topic debated on by radiologists and cardiologists for a long time now.
Advocates of the 64-slice CT system argue that it is good enough to make a cardiac diagnosis despite being a low-slice and relatively cheaper scanner. Furthermore, many cardiologists believe that there is still no need for a 256-slice or 320-slice scanner at the moment, especially considering their higher costs.
As put into words by James Min, M.D., director of the cardiovascular CT lab at New York Presbyterian Hospital, “I think we are looking at a three- to five-year process before the incremental benefit justifies the increased cost.”
To add context, a 256-slice CT scanner is usually twice the cost of a 64-slice. A 320-slice, on the other hand, will be around 2.5 times the cost of a 64-slice.
It’s worth noting, however, that those who adopted the higher slice machines enjoyed superior quality images and a more convenient process. Consequently, these systems allowed cardiologists to perform better diagnoses.
How High-slice CT Systems Help Both Doctors And Patients
CT scanners with lower slice counts, although sufficient in getting images, often require cardiac patients to stay still and hold their breaths. These are essential in getting great images.
With that said, it helps to remember that these patients are not in the best shape. Some of them may even have other underlying conditions. These make it difficult for them to follow those instructions, no matter how much they are willing to cooperate.
This is where 256- and 320-slice CT scanners can be particularly helpful. These high-slice systems are faster and offer a larger imaging area. On top of that, a 320-slice can capture an image of the entire heart during one phase. This is a major edge compared to 64-slice systems, which can only take multiple images of the heart and piece them together. As a result, the images produced are often misaligned due to cardiac movement.
There are other factors to be considered when deciding between low-slice and high-slice systems.
Large emergency departments, for example, may find higher-slice scanners far more advantageous than their lower counterparts. This is because the high volume of patients they accommodate can easily justify the high expenses. On top of that, having a faster CT scanner will allow them to efficiently handle a large number of cases a day.
Internal scheduling is another factor worth considering. This involves the personnel required to operate the machine and the room where the equipment is located. Additionally, the time and processes involved in preparing the patient for the examination must also be taken into account.
Determining if 64, 256, or 320-slice is the way to go involves more than the costs involved. While the price tag is certainly an essential factor, it also pays to look at how the scanner can impact your internal operations. Ultimately, you should consider how it can affect or improve the care you are able to provide to your patients.
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