Which would you rather have in your health care: convenience or low cost? Oftentimes, when choosing one, the other is sacrificed.
Hospital radiology departments can generate a lot of traffic for the perceived convenience of location and as a one-stop shop for medical care. However, there is no shortage of articles that will tell you that diagnostic imaging is more expensive at a hospital than the same services cost at a freestanding imaging center.
Even insurance companies find independent imaging centers to be more cost-friendly. As this article points out, Humana Insurance told its customers “the average national cost for an MRI at a hospital is $1,035 versus $617 at a free-standing center,” and United Health Care urged its customers to “check with your doctor to see if the scan can be performed at an imaging center which is usually less expensive than a hospital.”
Sometimes we tend to trust the old adage “you get what you pay for” and believe that paying more means we receive higher quality. When it comes to imaging pricing though, higher cost does not automatically denote higher quality.
This article points out that “costs were not based on factors such as quality or value, but instead on the leverage of providers.”
It begs the question if hospital services are not necessarily of significantly higher quality, why are they so much more expensive than freestanding imaging centers? Some factors include the power of certain brands over others, the cost of 24-hour operations versus standard M-F business hours, as well as the ability to charge whatever price they want, thanks in part to the lack of price transparency and the lack of comparison shopping done for medical procedures. (Note: You can use Save on Medical for easy comparison shopping.)
Along with sacrificing lower price, people at hospitals tend to experience longer wait times and receive less personalized, quality customer service than independent imaging centers offer. Much of the time it’s a numbers game for big health networks and hospitals. They get so much volume that they have to rush patients in and out, rather than focusing on customer service, because there are so many customers waiting to go next.
In essence, by going to a hospital, you’re paying more for a longer wait period and lower quality customer service. What if you could live in a world
of “and” instead of “or,” as in “convenient and cost-saving”?
It turns out, you can. Independent imaging centers, like Compass Imaging in Gulfport, Mississippi andRosetta Radiology in New York City, on average feature lower-priced procedures, procedures that use the same technology, of the same high quality, and that yield the same results of the hospital radiology scans. Plus, you will receive a greater focus on providing exemplary customer service.
In addition to offering a better customer experience, independent imaging centers can provide a better experience for the referring physician’s office.
Regents Health Resources conducted a large study on hospitals versus independent imaging centers. They surveyed physicians on their main sources of dissatisfaction with referrals:
- 53.5% said Scheduling and Registration
- 34.2% said Reports: Turnaround Time and Quality
- 32.8% said Preauthorization
- 23.4% said Quality of and Access to Radiologists
- 21.4% said Imaging Technology
Convenience and low cost sound a whole lot better than convenience or price, just like the couple in this commercial prefer a “liftgate and great gas mileage” as opposed to a “liftgate or great gas mileage.”
“I like ‘and’ a lot better.” So do we.