How to Choose an MRI Provider

Patient and Tech at MRI machineYou have a lot of choices when it comes to your health. Kim Suggett, the Puget Sound 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 images, 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.

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, WA is home to the only Open Upright MRI in Washington State and at CDI’s Kirkland, WA location we have a High-field Open 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 Washington State matters to our patients.

2. How will the choice simplify my life?

There’s definitely a convenience factor to consider when it comes to your health. You may have simple questions like, “Where do I park?” CDI tries to take all the guesswork out of your exam. Who really needs the anxiety of health unknowns? Free, handy parking is available just outside the door at all of our Puget Sound locations. Before you even schedule, you can virtually walk through our Renton, Kirkland, and Federal Way locations with our video visits. We also offer early morning, late evening and weekend appointments to fit your needs. By focusing on efficiency, we make it a priority to keep appointments on schedule – an advantage we have over hospitals. We aren’t bumping our scheduled appointments for patients with more urgent/emergent needs. When you know what to expect from your provider, you remove the unknown and make your life a little easier.

3. How much does my MRI cost?

If you’re picking the best facility that helps you simplify your life, 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. Savings are even greater with certain exams. Take a look at the cost comparison of an average CT chest exam without contrast in the chart below.

Average cost of CT Chest chart

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!” To compare prices for procedures around the Seattle area, here’s a cost comparison calculator. It can be worth it to do the math, know what you are paying for, and—most importantly—what you are getting.