DMS Blog

How Patient Awareness Drives CT Scanner Needs

Market research and ongoing studies into the use of CT technology reveal that there is increasing patient demand for CT Imaging.

A report issued by Transparency Market Research lists growing patient awareness and demand for non-invasive technologies as key drivers of patient demand.

What does this mean for medical practices? In healthcare, positive recommendations from patients are part of how we measure performance, therefore meeting patient demand where is critical.

Patient awareness on the rise

Early detection of disease is one of the drivers behind patient demand for diagnostic tools to be made available. Most campaigns targeting awareness of chronic diseases talk about the importance of early detection to improve outcomes. Patients are aware that diagnostic delays do matter, sometimes they’re the difference between life and death.

As part of this, there is growing awareness of genetic risk factors, along with better accessibility to test for them. Here is an extract from a Market Watch report:

“The Genetic Testing Market is set to exceed USD 22 billion by 2024; Increasing prevalence of cancer and other genetic diseases worldwide will drive industry growth over the forecast timeframe. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), around 4,08,200 breast cancer cases and 92,000 cancer deaths were recorded in 2013. The number of breast cancer cases in (the) Americas is expected to grow by 46% by 2030. Furthermore, increasing awareness among patients pertaining to early detection of diseases helps patients to undergo timely treatment and minimize the risks associated with the diseases.”

Diagnostic genetic testing dominates the North American genetic testing market and is expected to continue to witness robust growth, according to the report. “Diagnostic testing enables early diagnosis of diseases allowing patients to undergo timely therapeutic treatment, lower the severity of diseases and reduce the mortality rate.”

Furthermore, the report on CT growth issued by Transparency Market Research indicates that an increasing prevalence of the target diseases for CT technology is another driver of demand. For example, CT perfusion and Spectral CT are seeing growth along with American Heart Association (AHA) data showing not only growth in cardiovascular disease, but a predicted continuation of that growth.

Another patient demand factor is growing requests for minimally invasive diagnostic procedures. Parallel to this is a growing demand for “patient-directed care,” and a more individualized approach.

“Furthermore, rising demand for bedside imaging, rising popularity of homecare among the geriatric population in developed nations, advent of portable CT scanners, and growing use of CT scanners to examine the outcome of post interventional medical procedures or medical implants are some other key factors behind the growth of CT scanners market.”

What patients look for in a CT provider

While patients demand CT as part of early disease diagnostics, at the same time, many either don’t have access to facilities that provide CT, or their local provider seems out of reach due to cost. This potentially includes coverage refusal by their insurance too.

Consider the story below, published on KevinMD from a gastroenterologist who, upon determining that colonoscopy was not the best option for his patient, ordered a CT scan colonography:

“Insurance company tool: “We can’t approve the test as you have not provided any objective evidence that there is a problem in your patient’s colon.”

Me: “I agree. That’s why I am ordering the CT scan. If I knew in advance what was wrong with her colon, then I wouldn’t need to order the test. Get my point?”

He then issued denial #2…”

That accessibility issue is something for practices to consider. Has it been an issue in your area and is there anything you can do to ease the burden?

Nowadays, patients have more access to information about CT technology and often research it ahead of time. They’re interested in options that show improved speed for their scan, image clarity, and lower doses of radiation. They’re looking for a comfortable experience with a trustworthy provider.

The mobile CT option

There’s a good chance that based on the data we are seeing, your area has, or will have, increased demand for CT technology. If you don’t currently offer CT, you have decisions to make. Do you go to the expense and disruption of installing a new fixed CT suite? Do you offer a mobile CT option instead?

The mobile CT market is another that has growing demand along with overall demand for CT. Mobile offers healthcare facilities flexibility and the ability to offer CT without large capital investment or the need to hire technologists.

Who is mobile CT a good option for? Here are some considerations:

  1. You don’t have the space available to put in a new CT imaging suite. In-house imaging requires a considerable amount of real estate – sometimes an evaluation of need might reflect that the space is either unavailable, or better used for something more critical.
  2. You don’t have the capital to invest in an in-house suite. CT equipment is costly, especially if you want to use better technology. You need to consider if you would recover the capital outlay. Besides the cost of the imaging equipment, you should also consider the cost of housing the equipment and hiring the staff to run the suite.
  3. Your testing volume. If you have too few patients to test, it can cost you more money than what you’ll make back.

Rural hospitals are often banding together to offer services now due to intense competition from city hospitals. Traveling for care has become normal, leaving many rural hospitals treated as critical care providers, but losing the long-term care of the patient.

Being able to offer services that a city hospital has can help these rural locations remain competitive. Mobile services such as mobile CT can play a major role in helping those rural locations to share services and provide them cost-effectively. This can also help with alleviating shortages and addressing any issues with outdated equipment.

Reliability is another trait of a good mobile service and this helps clinics in all areas to offer services. Where perhaps there is an inability to handle volume or a lack of trained staff, mobile can provide an effective alternative.

Final thoughts

Patient demand is a driving factor for increased provision of CT scanning services. There is more awareness of early disease detection and often, a preference for minimally-invasive diagnostic procedures.

Healthcare providers need to consider how they will meet that demand. Investing in equipment and space for in-house services can be very expensive, particularly if you don’t have large volumes.

On the other hand, mobile CT services are helping providers in all areas, including underserved rural centers to offer reliable, state-of-the-art diagnostic services. It may be the answer to meeting patient demand.

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