Why do they say “it costs the hospital to use the machine” when the hospital owns the machine?


It always confused me. A hospital has an MRI or some other machine, and you hear they try to use it as little as possible to cut costs, because it costs them this or that amount per usage. But why would that be if they own it?

In: 379

Operating costs: someone has to interpret the results of the scan, housekeeping may be required to clean the room after use, there are consumable (electricity, etc) used up when the machine is on, etc.


Something the others comments missed, sometimes hospitals don’t actually own the machine. Especially not smaller hospitals or clinics. Instead, often, there will be a specialized company that’s own all the machines for a specific task. And then they will rent them out to hospitals or clinics for 1-2 days a month.

This is beneficial for the hospital because they may only have a few patients that need a certain machine per month. By only renting it a few days a months, they don’t have to operate, maintain, replace, or be liable for the machine.

A lot of the time these companies also send technicians to operate the machine.

Source: A good friend of mine operates one of such companies.

it’s a shell game. radiology makes huge huge profits, charging $4000/hour, but big hospitals use these profits to fund other departments like psychiatry which always run at a loss.

So. I work in medical imaging. Not every hospital does it the same way, but this is a very complicated system.

Often, the hospital will actually purchase equipment such as an MRI or fluoroscopy suite, but will have contract to only least the software.

Sometimes this software must be updated.ically by a technician. We often have preventive maintenance or regular maintenance contracts with the manufacturer. Sometimes manufacturers have contracts to work on each other’s equipment. Sometimes this preventative maintenance happens at set times, but sometimes happens after set numbers of usage.

In addition imaging equipment is incredibly touchy. It needs to be constantly calibrated, tested, etc. X ray tubes fog from the inside as metal burns away inside them. They are only good for a certain number of total x rays or a certain amount of time under flouroscopy.

Then there is labor costs. Despite imaging equipment classing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Across its life, the real cost is having a qualified Technologist, usually with a bachelors degree. We are traines to think critically about what the doctor wants, needs, What is possible and impossible, to filter their orders in ways that prevent expensive or harmful outcome. We are trying to keep patient safe, to administer contrast agents, a few medications, and radio pharmaceuticals, etc. And most importantly, we are trying to operate the equipment properly, safely, and to the best imaging effect.

So yeah, it costs money. What the hospital is attempting to do is create good patient outcomes without a bunch of extra expense. Anything that can be decided clinically is cheaper than an X-ray. If Imagong is needed, X-ray is cheaper than an MRI. If a lab test can detect and diagnose an illness as well as an X-ray, and is cheaper, do that.

However, an X- ray cannot do some things an MRI can do. CT, MRI, Ultrasound, Daignostic X-ray, Nuc-Med, and the others all have their place.