Mobile CT Rental: Is it The Right Choice For You?

A CT scanner is a medical diagnostic imaging system that uses X-rays to capture images of a patient’s internal organs and structures. CT scanners have become commonplace in imaging centers and hospitals, especially in emergency rooms, because CTs can capture images within minutes to diagnose severe injuries and conditions. However, not every medical facility is in need of a CT scanner–at least, not a permanent one. If you need a CT scanner for your facility but aren’t in need of a permanent solution, look into renting a mobile CT unit. 

A mobile CT unit is a CT that has been installed in a large trailer. You will need space outside of your facility, such as in your parking lot, to park the trailer so patients can be transported into the mobile CT unit. While this may seem slightly less convenient than having a permanent CT installed in your facility, there are numerous benefits to renting a mobile CT unit. 

Why Rent A Mobile CT Unit?

There are plenty of advantages to having a mobile CT unit on site, even if you have a permanent CT scanner set up in your facility. Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider renting a mobile CT unit:

  • You’re not sure if you need CT – A permanent CT scanner is expensive, both in terms of initial costs as well as continued maintenance costs. You will want to make sure your investment is justified. By renting a mobile CT unit, you can track its use to see if you have the necessary patient volume and whether you attract new patients by having a CT scanner available. You can rent a mobile CT unit as a trial run to determine whether investing a significant part of your budget into a permanent CT scanner is worth it.
  • Your permanent CT is being repaired, replaced or upgraded – If your permanent CT scanner has broken down or is in need of repairs, it may be some time before it’s back up and running depending on what the issue was. Renting a mobile CT unit can help you meet the needs of your patients while your facility’s permanent CT scanner is being serviced,replaced or upgraded. This ensures you don’t lose revenue or have to refer your patients to another facility.
  • You can’t afford a permanent CT – Investing in a permanent CT scanner may not be in your budget. Renting a mobile CT unit can be more affordable. The cost of renting a mobile CT will often be taken out of your operating budget instead of the your capital budget. This means that if your capital budget prohibits a major purchase, you could still afford to rent a mobile CT unit, and not wait until the next fiscal year to have a CT scanner on site..
  • You have a backlog of patients – Facilities that already have a functioning CT scanner on site may still need a mobile unit if there is a patient backlog. If you can’t keep up with the needs of your patients with your single CT scanner and your backlog of scheduled scans is growing, temporarily renting a mobile CT unit to help clear that backlog can be a smart idea.
  • You can’t justify the cost of a permanent CT – With the amount or type of patients you see, you may not be able to justify the cost of installing a permanent CT scanner. However, you may be able to justify the cost of renting a mobile CT unit. This is a conclusion you may draw during a trial run. In such a case, consider renting a mobile CT unit long term.

Potential Drawbacks of Renting a Mobile CT

There are certainly a lot of advantages to renting a mobile CT unit; however, here are a few potential drawbacks to consider before making your decision

  • There will be additional costs – Besides the base cost of renting a mobile CT unit, which varies greatly based on the type, age and manufacturer of the CT, along with how long you plan to rent it, there are a few additional costs that you may not be aware of. These include a security deposit, transportation and delivery of the trailer containing the CT scanner, site prep and set-up, applications training, de-installation, and cleaning.
  • The quality can vary – There are several factors that affect the quality of the mobile CT unit you’re renting that will impact the quality of service you’ll be able to provide. The age, type and manufacturer of the scanner  will have an impact on the quality of the unit, as will the age of the trailer that holds the CT. The set up of the trailer is important too. A good quality mobile CT unit will have a comfortable layout that will make it easy for patients and staff to move around freely; however, a lower quality trailer may feel cramped and cluttered. Also keep in mind, this is a used CT scanner you’re setting up.
  • The logistics can be challenging – Even if you have the operational budget to rent a high-quality mobile CT unit from a reputable service provider, you may have some logistical problems depending on your facility’s site. Not only will you need to have space available outside of your facility to park the trailer, but you also needs space to successfully maneuver and deliver the unit. On top of that, the ground needs to be level and will need to be in good condition. The pad on which the trailer is to be set up on will have to be able to support at least 30 tons of weight and have the appropriate electric power available. Besides having enough space for the unit, you’ll also need enough room to transport patients in and out of the trailer.
  • The weather can cause problems – Although the CT scanner will be housed inside of a trailer, patients will still need to go outside of your facility to enter the mobile CT unit. If you’re in a rainy area, this can be a bit problematic.You may need to devise a way to transport your patients in and out of your trailer without them getting soaked.

Costs: Renting vs Buying

A good quality CT scanner will put a pretty big dent in your capital budget. Depending on a variety of factors (such as whether the CT scanner is brand new or refurbished, whether you buy from a top name brand manufacturer or not, and the capabilities of the CT scanner), the permanent installation of a CT scanner can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $2.5 million.

While renting a mobile CT unit isn’t cheap, it’s a much more affordable option in the short-term. Like the purchase of a CT scanner, the cost of renting a mobile CT unit is going to vary greatly depending on the quality of the unit, the length of time you plan to rent it, and whether you’ll be provided service by the original equipment manufacturer or a third party service provider.

If you want a high-quality CT scanner that is capable of acquiring a large amount images at a rapid speed, you can expect to pay anywhere from $39,000 and up per month. Compared to the potential $1.5 million price tag of a permanent CT unit, renting can be a much more cost-effective option–depending on how long you plan to rent the unit. Another cost-saving option is sharing the mobile CT unit between multiple locations.

Long vs Short-Term Rental

Mobile CT units are typically rented weekly, month, or yearly. The longer you rent the unit for, the more affordable the rates will be, since delivery and set up is not required of the provider as often. Depending on the system you rent, you can expect to pay the following for a rental:

  • Between $10,000 and $21,000 a week for a weekly rental.
  • Between $18,000 and $39,000 per month for a monthly rental.
  • At least $15,000 (and upwards) per month for a one-year rental.

Whether you decide on a short-term or a long-term rental depends entirely on the needs of your facility. If you simply need temporary CT capabilities while your permanent CT is being repaired or replaced, a weekly rental may be your best option. If you want to setup a CT on site as a trial run, a monthly option might be your best bet.

Renting a mobile unit for a year or more may be the best decision if your facility can’t afford a permanent CT scanner but could benefit from having one on site.

Does a Higher Cost Justify The Benefits?

Renting a mobile CT unit costs a lot of money. However, so does purchasing a CT scanner outright. In the long run, purchasing a CT scanner is going to cost you less; however, there are many advantages to renting a mobile CT unit. It’s an excellent short-term solution for facilities that are repairing, replacing or upgrading their permanent CT scanner or that want to test out having a CT scanner by giving it a trial run. Your budget may play a big part in your decision as well. You might be able to afford to buy a lower quality CT scanner with fewer capabilities, but in such a case, you may prefer to rent a higher quality unit with more capabilities, even if it’s for a longer period of time.

Mobile CT unit rentals are a great short-term option for medical facilities. Whether or not it’s the right solution for you depends greatly on the needs and budgetary constraints of your facility. Once you’ve decided what’s best for you, be sure to select a quality service provider.