How to Choose an MRI Provider
Submitted by Center for Diagnostic Imaging
You have a lot of choices when it comes to your health. Kim Suggett, the Puget Sound senior director of operations for Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI), explains how knowledge is power. “I think patients don’t realize that they absolutely do have a choice and their experience will vary based on where they go.” Choosing wisely means being informed about your options. So, if your doctor says you need some an MRI, find the best provider by starting with these three questions:
1. How is your Imaging Center better than others?
The first sign of quality in imaging is the experience and knowledge of the staff. Look for a provider that requires team members to be certified and maintain their CEUs (continuing education units). At CDI you get both. Having a high standard for ongoing education helps providers stay on the cutting edge of the imaging field. When someone gets certifications from organizations like the ARRT and the American Board of Radiology, it means they meet national standards for education, ethics and skill. For patients: Expertise=Quality.
Also find out if the provider is doing an automatic double check. At CDI, we have a 3-6% overread policy, which means a second radiologist is giving 3-6% of our cases a double check. Neuroradiologist Dr. Steven Pollei explains that after he reads a study, then the peer review process randomly selects some of his studies to be reviewed by another radiologist specializing in neuroradiology to confirm his findings. It’s a way of maintaining quality control for physicians and patients.
2. What is the right MRI for me?
Beyond the expertise of the clinical teams, look for a range of scanner choices. Finding the right scanner for your specific needs will make for the most comfortable exam possible. If you have feelings of claustrophobia, are obese, or have broad shoulders, you’ll want to seek out a provider that offers alternatives to the traditional MRI. CDI in Renton is home to the only Open Upright MRI in Washington State and at CDI’s Kirkland and Puyallup locations we have a High-field Open MRI. Our Bellevue center has a 3T wide-bore MRI. At all of our Puget Sound locations we offer an MRI guarantee, meaning if you are unable to complete an exam on one scanner, we’ll work to get the images needed on another scanner. This is why having the widest variety of MRIs in Western Washington matters to our patients.
3. How much does my MRI cost?
If you’re picking the best facility with the widest variety of MRI options, you’re probably paying a lot more, right? Abi Roberts, Insurance Specialist at CDI in Kirkland, WA runs the numbers all day long. “Our costs are a fraction of what the hospitals cost.” On average, CDI’s costs are 30-50% less than hospital-based providers. Take a look at the cost comparison of an average MRI extremity exam in the chart below.
Insurance Specialist Abi puts it this way: If your co-pay is 20%, would you rather pay 20% of a $2,000 bill (that’s $400) from the hospital or 20% of a $900 bill (that’s $180) from CDI? “We give you a more cost effective exam,” Abi explains. “That’s a big difference!”
A recent article in Business Insider lists MRI cost discrepancies by state, comparing freestanding centers to hospital-based imaging. Washington is the fourth highest state with an average difference of around $1,800. With high-deductible health care plans on the rise, it can be worth it to do the math, know what you are paying for, and—most importantly—what you are getting.
For more information, visit myCDI.com/WA
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