Most veterinary practices have enough operating cost to deal with, so investing in modalities that don’t generate any income is simply not an option. If you’re thinking about purchasing a computed tomography (CT) system, you’ve probably wondered how much income you would need from CT scans to break even. That’s a common concern, but when calculating your income from CT, it is important to include not only CT scan fees but also surgeries that you would not have performed had you not purchased a CT system.
- Seeing What You Need
- Pet-Owner Compliance
- Revenue from Procedures
- Clinic Enhancement
Seeing what you need
Although digital radiography and ultrasound are powerful diagnostic imaging tools, they are fundamentally limited because they are 2-dimensional projections of 3-dimensional anatomy. Computed tomography, however, produces a 3-dimensional projection that allows you to examine the architecture of structures within the patient’s body. It is this advantage that allows veterinarians to diagnose pathologies with CT that they would not have been able to diagnose with radiography or ultrasound. With this advanced diagnosis, a surgeon can decipher not only the pathology and that it exists, but they can easily plan their route of attack. They will know (on a spinal lesion, for example) exactly which vertebrae is affected, what is the easiest angle of entry, which tools they’ll need, and how extensive the procedure will likely be.
This is a huge advantage in surgical outcomes, but also in compliance. Some of these conditions can be diagnosed without a CT, but we’ve all heard pet owners say “no” to surgeries because there was a degree of uncertainty regarding the diagnosis. With CT, compliance will increase dramatically since you will be able to show the client exactly what is wrong (often in a clear 3D rendering), and you will have a much better idea of the clinical results to expect. That’s much more convincing than saying, “Here’s what we hope to see when we open up your pet.”
How Much Surgical Income Can CT Generate?
The surgeries performed after a CT scan generate significantly more revenue than the scan itself. The reality is that if you perform just one extra surgery per month owing to your CT, your surgical income alone will be more than enough to cover the monthly payments towards your investment.
The table below lists various procedures that you can perform based on what you find in a CT scan:
Offering a better experience
Your staff might not have the surgical expertise needed to perform the more advanced procedures, but by offering CT you are still doing a service to the pet owner. You will also be growing a stronger relationship with your referral surgeon who will not only appreciate the referral but will also have confidence in your diagnosis capabilities thanks to the CT.
As a final thought, don’t forget that investing in a CT is an investment in the growth of your practice. That’s going to require talented staff; the brightest surgeons, internists, and neurologists have come to expect (and sometimes demand) to have CT and other advanced imaging modalities at their disposal.
SOUND TOP TIP
Call a reference list of clinics who have newly installed CT scanners and ask how much added revenue and referrals they’ve noticed since implementation. At the same time, it may be useful to go through your existing caseload and see how many of these procedures you’ve done and/or referred away.
Diagnostic imaging is a means to an end. It is a learning tool that allows you formulate a plan towards a curative action. Clinically, the goal is always to follow-up a diagnostic scan with an interventional action. But advanced imaging modalities are expensive. So it is important to include the financial impact that a CT scanner will have on the surgical caseload as you formulate your decisions to invest in your clinic.