Mobile CT Trailer Overhead Layout

Mobile CT Scanners: The Ultimate Guide

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In this article, we combine our 50 years of combined experience as mobile imaging engineers with the feedback of thirteen radiology managers to provide you with the most thorough article available on renting a mobile CT scanner.

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See what the inside of a trailer looks like with this video

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WHY RENT A MOBILE CT SCANNER

Renting or leasing a mobile CT (computed tomography) scanner can be an excellent solution for a variety of circumstances.

The most common call we receive is from the radiology department of a hospital or clinic whose CT machine has gone down. The following are additional situations where a mobile solution is beneficial:

  • Building/department renovations
  • Testing a market
  • Low traffic at multiple locations
  • Research studies
  • Rural visitations
  • Avoiding large capital expenditures

RENTING VS LEASING

One repeated important factor when renting from a mobile CT company was the flexibility of the contract duration.

Depending on which of the above situations you find yourself in you may need the short term flexibility of renting a unit or the longer term solution of leasing one.

If you’re renting then you get the flexibility of not being locked into a long-term contract, but you’re going to pay more.

When leasing you can expect a greater discount, but you lose the advantage of getting out of your contract quickly. Typically a lease agreement will arise if the unit is required for more than one year.

COST OF RENTING A MOBILE CT SCANNER

Search around and you’ll find a range of prices.

Weekly Rental Agreement: $10,000 – $21,000 per week
Monthly Rental Agreement: $18,000 – $39,000 per month
One Year Rental Agreement: $15,000+ per month

Prices will vary depending on the quality of the unit, the make and model of the CAT scanner, and whether you’ll be taken care of by an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) service provider.

The quality of the unit includes:

  • Age of the trailer encompassing the mobile imaging equipment
  • How well kept up the unit is (fixes, wear and tear, etc)
  • Aesthetics (is it cold and bland or have the look and feel been considered)
  • Comfortability (is it a tight fit or does the layout allow patient and nurse to move around comfortably)

Some of the possible equipment manufacturers include GE, Toshiba, Philips, and Siemens. All offer different makes and models of their mobile CT units with varying prices. Additionally, the unit in the trailer could have been acquired new or refurbished.

Toshiba Mobile CT Scanner
Above: Toshiba Aquilion 16 MultiSlice Computed Tomography Scanner in a Mobile Trailer

A big deciding factor for the radiology managers we interviewed was the brand of the equipment. Often this alone will eliminate a portion of the mobile CT companies because a hospital or clinic needs the CT scanner to tie into their existing technology.

The third major component is who will be providing your ongoing service.

OEM SERVICE PROVIDER VS 3RD PARTY PROVIDER

As one of our study’s more experienced participants put it, “It’s expected that problems will arise when leasing a unit.” This does not mean issues are common. He is acknowledging the intricacy each project.

While third party service providers can cost as much as 30% lower, more experienced radiology managers know that this comes at a cost. At Catalina Imaging our philosophy is that the money you spend will never be as great as the money you lose when cutting corners.

No matter how you slice it (pun intended), going with a third party service provider raises the risk of receiving a lower quality service.

Downtime is very costly and can be a huge headache. In fact, the number one and number two priorities of our radiology managers when evaluating what mobile CT service provider to go with were directly related to resolving downtime issues. These included customer service and service availability.

If the engineer sent to your site is undertrained or inexperienced this could end up costing thousands more than it needed to, not to mention the stress that comes with dealing with upset patients or higher-ups.

Another consideration; some companies offer 24/7 service with their rental and leasings. Be sure to find out if the companies you’re looking at do.

EXTRA COSTS TO CONSIDER

Each mobile imaging company will have its own way of handling these extra costs, so it’s important to set clear expectations of what you are responsible for. Some costs to consider include:

  • A security deposit
  • Site help, pre-planning, and set-up
  • Transportation and delivery
  • Applications training
  • De-installation
  • Cleaning fees

PLANNING FOR YOU UNIT

Because a mobile CT unit is such a specialized piece of equipment the logistics involved in planning and preparing the site are extensive. If you’re working with a company who knows what they’re doing and you make yourself available to work with them then the process can be smooth. The further in advance you plan though, the better.

“Mobile
Above: An example of a mobile imaging trailer.

Some logistics to consider include the ability of the truck to maneuver the trailer in place, siting issues such as the levelness and condition of the ground, weather conditions, and electrical requirements.

The pad the unit will be set on needs to be able to support 30 or more tons of weight. It also needs enough space for both the mobile CT trailer and the transportation of patients in and out of the trailer. Both the size of the area needed and the dimensions of the trailer will vary depending on the company.

Mobile CT Trailer Guide
Above: An overhead view of a mobile CT trailer and the area required for it.

This is where the experience of a company is beneficial because each site is different and the more unique situations a company has come across the more they will understand how to handle yours.

ONGOING MAINTENANCE/CUSTOMER SERVICE

As we mentioned earlier, this is a big deal for the radiology managers we spoke with. You’ll want to make sure there are multiple points of contact for situations involving both the trailer holding the CT equipment and the CT equipment itself. If your company is an OEM service provider then your point of contact for the mobile imaging equipment will likely be the OEM.

DE-INSTALLATION

Once you’ve scheduled a time for the service engineer to come out and unplug everything you’ll want to make sure you remove all patient data. You’ll also need to remove all items you brought into the trailer and you may be responsible for final cleaning.

CONCLUSION

When searching for a mobile imaging service provider the top three priorities of the radiology managers were customer service, availability, and price, in that order.

When looking for your own company try to run through the checklist of questions provided in this article to make sure they’re up to providing the highest quality service. Renting or leasing a mobile CT scanner can be a smooth experience if done with the right company. We hope this article brought some clarity about what that company should look like.

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