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Mobile MRI Machines & Trailers – Our Guide

by | Sep 18, 2020 | MRI

Mobile MRI Machines & Trailers – Our Guide

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, can be used for a broad range of diagnostic and research purposes. The MRI uses magnetic waves, magnetic field gradients, and radio waves to create images of the inside of the body. Unlike CT scans, MRIs do not use X-rays or other radiation when creating these images, which is one reason why many medical professionals prefer it.

Many practices are now looking into the use of mobile MRIs. These MRIs are simply contained within a specially designed trailer within which the MRI scanner is able to both travel and operate. Depending on the type of practice you work for, a mobile MRI might be a more convenient option that allows you to reach more patients. Mobile MRIs are also a great alternative for the temporary replacement of a fixed MRI system that needs repairs, especially since mobile MRIs can be either purchased or rented. There are many reasons why the use of mobile imaging equipment has been increasing in popularity since its introduction in the late 1980s.

 

What Is a Mobile MRI?

Mobile MRIs are essentially just a mobile version of a fixed MRI system. MRIs are the medical application of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, a physical phenomenon in which nuclei respond to magnetic fields nearby and emit a signal that can be interpreted in imaging. MRIs are often used for diagnostic purposes when a doctor needs to see internal organs through a series of images, or in creating a long term care plan based on what they see in these images.

Mobile MRIs operate the same way as permanently stationed MRIs, but with the added benefit of being mobile. These MRIs require specialized trailers to move from location to location, which protects and transports them. Mobile units can be custom built to meet specification requirements and are transported with fully energized magnets so that they’re ready for operation upon arrival.

Certified trailers are designed to protect and facilitate Magnetic Resonance Imaging in order to prolong the years of use you can receive from the MRI machine. They are specially structured for ease of use and patient comfort, no matter the location. The companies that design and sell MRI machines, like GE and Siemens, also design the trailers that contain and transport them and sell these concurrently.

 

Set-Up Requirements for a Mobile MRI

Mobile MRIs that are housed within their specially designed trailers require very little set up. The trailers that house mobile MRI units are fully equipped with proper magnetic shielding and workstations for doctors and technicians. Heating, air conditioning, and environmental controls are also part of the trailer structure that transports the MRI unit, eliminating the need for supplementary setup, even in harsh conditions.

Like fixed MRI machines, mobile MRIs require specific software suites depending on the needs of the facility. Aside from the preparation of supplies like gowns and PPE, the only other setup required by the mobile MRI is the software set up. If the mobile MRI unit will only be used for a small set of applications, software setup can be minimal and not inconvenient.

 

The Benefits of Mobile MRIs

The primary and obvious benefit of the mobile MRI is the ability to move wherever the facility needs it to be. There are a variety of reasons a facility might need or want a movable unit, including being able to offer MRIs at multiple hospitals or offices in a network or being able to offer patients a shorter distance to travel within a large facility. Some facilities prefer the convenience of being able to offer MRI services close to parking areas, preventing the patient from ever having to enter the building.

Mobile units can also be beneficial as a temporary MRI option for a hospital or practice. This includes during building construction while repairing or performing maintenance on an existing fixed unit, or while considering whether a fixed unit is practical for the future. Mobile MRIs can help a hospital or practice gauge the amount of demand they’d have if they offered the on-site services of a fixed MRI machine, before committing to the costs associated with purchasing a new unit. Fixed units often require structural changes within the building in order to contain the magnetic fields used for imaging, and a mobile unit can help medical professionals decide whether the investment is worth the long term revenue that a fixed unit could bring in.

Sometimes, facilities that can’t justify the cost of a fixed MRI machine can still benefit from the use of a mobile unit. Smaller facilities that don’t frequently perform MRI services have the option to coordinate and split expenses of mobile MRI units with other facilities. This allows each facility to offer and schedule MRIs without having to commit to the entire cost associated with purchasing a machine and augmenting their facility to house it.

The preinstallation and restructuring costs alone are often enough to justify the use of a mobile unit. It can sometimes cost millions of dollars to design and construct a room or rooms that are required to house an MRI machine, which may be unrealistic for many facilities, regardless of potential future use.

 

To Rent or to Buy? (Key Considerations)

Once a facility has made the decision to invest in a mobile MRI, there are options available for ownership and renting. There are overlapping and unique costs associated with both buying and renting mobile imagine equipment, which should be carefully considered based on length of use and the type of imaging your facility expects to do.

Renting mobile MRI units is similar to renting other types of equipment, or even real estate. There may be cleaning costs associated with the initial drop off of a rental unit, as well as a security deposit. The bore rating of an MRI system will determine the cost, as well as the age of the machine and the length of the rental.

Long term leases often mean lower per-month rental costs, in the same way, that making a bulk purchase of something minimizes the cost per unit. Long term leases with a buy-out option are often best for facilities who are leaning toward the purchase of an MRI unit so that if they decide the ease of use and convenience of the mobile unit is cost-effective for them, they’re able to make the commitment to the machine they’re renting.

Renting a mobile MRI unit also offers the convenience of testing out the software and practicality of the machine before a facility commits to purchasing one. A short term lease allows the facility to get comfortable with the design and chosen location of a mobile unit in order to make the decision to purchase or not.

The bore value of an MRI machine represents the space inside the machine, where the patient lays while images are being taken. Wider bore machines are often more comfortable for the patient, as many patients become anxious or claustrophobic while inside these machines. Wider bore machines often cost more than smaller bore machines, whether renting or buying an MRI unit.

Both buying and renting mobile MRI machines might have transportation costs associated with them. These machines are self-contained in mobile trailers, however, those trailers need to be moved by trucks, which the trailer is independent from. Truck drivers and/or trucking companies charge their own fees to move equipment, which can range anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per move. Expedited moving often has added expenses associated with it, so planning ahead is important.

Buying a mobile MRI unit might be a better option for your facility if your brick and mortar location can not be modified to house a fixed unit, or if you’re ready to commit to the convenience of having a mobile unit. Buying outright will mean a greater initial expense, but potential savings in the long term, and will depend on a number of factors. Mobile MRI units typically cost between $150,000 to $400,000 or more to purchase outright.

Whether you buy a mobile unit new or used will determine your price ranges for a mobile MRI, as will the brand you decide to purchase. GE, Siemens, and Phillips are major producers of imagining equipment, and their costs can range through hundreds of thousands of dollars. As with a rental MRI unit, this also depends on the type of software to be run, the bore size, and the age of the machine. Refurbished machines are also available for purchase and can save the buyer significant amounts of money in purchasing.

 

The Takeaway

Mobile MRIs can be a cost-effective alternative to a fixed location with the convenience of shared costs and mobility. They are an excellent consideration while a facility decides whether offering MRI services will be cost-effective for them in the long term and require very little set up aside from staffing, stocking with PPE, and software familiarization.

Mobile MRIs offer the added flexibility of both being mobile and being able to rent, short or long term. They offer the same diagnostic and treatment plan services for patients, without diminishing image quality, and can be a great option for hospitals and private practices for a variety of reasons.

If you’re in need of a mobile MRI, feel free to reach out to us via email at mobileimaging@directmedparts.com or give us a call at 855-463-3727. We have several renting and purchasing options available. We specialize in GE, Siemens, Philips, Toshiba, and Hitachi imaging systems. View all of our MRI systems here.

Do you currently own or operate a Mobile MRI? If you’re looking for more MRI Coils to increase your service offering, we have over 3,000 MRI coils in stock. We can also repair your broken coils and provide a loaner to minimize your downtime. Feel free to reach out to sales@directmedparts.com or give us a call at 855-463-3727 for pricing and availability.

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