3 Steps to Taking Control of your MRI
Thick Friday rush hour traffic in Olympia had Norma Campbell Branson at a dead stop in the far left lane of I-5. The next thing she knew, her car was hit from behind. The instant neck pain she felt turned out to be three herniated discs. When the doctor ordered an MRI, Norma cringed.
As a claustrophobic, Norma knew a traditional MRI wasn’t going to work so she went searching for an alternative. “I found CDI through a Google search,” she explained. Center for Diagnostic Imaging’s Renton location offers Washington State’s only Open Upright MRI. It wasn’t the place her doctor had recommended, but since the Open Upright isn’t enclosed, Norma figured it was her only chance at getting through the scan her doctor needed so she made an appointment.
Doctor’s Orders or Just a Recommendation?
“Not everyone realizes they can make the call about where they go for an MRI,” says Kim Suggett, CDI’s Director of Operations for the Puget Sound area. “I think patients don’t realize that they absolutely do have a choice and their experience will vary based on where they go.” Many doctors refer patients to a hospital for an MRI, a referral that is sometimes based on the doctor’s relationship or affiliation with the hospital. But by choosing an outpatient imaging center, you can save money.
Kim says patients are often surprised that, on average, CDI’s costs are 30-50% less than hospital-based providers. Outpatient centers also come with the convenience of free parking, early morning, late evening, and weekend appointments. “And you’re working with a scheduled appointment rather than a hospital situation where you might get bumped by patients with more urgent needs,” Kim explains.
Pain in both knees brought Rodney Dunlap in for an MRI. He didn’t have to defy his doctor’s orders. Rodney’s physician suggested he get his scans done at CDI’s Federal Way location. This wasn’t Rodney’s first MRI, but it was his first time at an outpatient center. “I never knew these types of places existed,” Rodney admitted. “I took MRIs and X-rays in hospitals and it seems like it’s a longer process to get in and do it unless it’s a real emergency.”
Be an Educated Patient
When it comes to your health, it can pay off to get more involved in your care choices. Abi Roberts, an Insurance Specialist for CDI, says some patients are really educated while others don’t know they have options. Following these three steps can help you take control of your care:
- Ask Questions
- Research Your Options
- Compare Factors like Cost & Convenience
Simply knowing that you don’t have to follow your doctor’s recommendation is an important first step. “If I were personally a patient,” says Abi, “And my doctor just one-off refers me to get an MRI and they just send me to the hospital, you would hope you would think of CDI because we’re able to provide that personalized service and a cost-effective exam.”