Choosing the Right Type of Ultrasound Machine for Your Clinical Setting
Throughout the years, ultrasound machines have grown in popularity in the healthcare industry. They are used in various medical practices, ranging from obstetrics and pediatrics to cardiology and physical therapy. If you are in the market for an ultrasound machine, there are a few factors you should take into consideration. First and foremost, it is imperative you choose medical equipment that is suitable to both your needs and your budget. You may want to consider purchasing an ultrasound machine appropriate to your work environment. For instance, if you work in a confined healthcare setting, such as a clinic or medical practice, perhaps choosing a portable ultrasound machine would be of great convenience to you and your patients. Portable ultrasound machines ensure mobility and timely and accurate diagnoses, as well as reduce diagnosis costs. However, if you work in a larger healthcare setting, such as a hospital, a traditional ultrasound machine may be more to your advantage. There are great deals on ultrasound machines to choose from—GE provides remarkable 4D imaging resolution, Samsung offers great prices, Phillips is known for its reliability and swiftness, and many, many more. Below are ten factors you should bear in mind when choosing the right type of ultrasound machine for your clinical setting.
Consider upgrading or trading in your current ultrasound machine
Before you decide to look around for a new ultrasound machine, consider upgrading the one you already have, that is, if the unit still meets your needs. Sometimes, all a machine really needs is a bit of fine-tuning. If the ultrasound machine is no longer able to meet your needs, but is still functioning, you may want to consider trading it in for another model at a discount price. Think it over, but in any case, you can always sell your old ultrasound machines in order to cover your costs.
Identify the ultrasound machine’s specific use for your specialty
Ultrasound machines are used in several medical fields—obstetrics, oncology, radiology, endocrinology, and more. When purchasing an ultrasound machine, you need to determine the size and type of machine you wish to purchase, typically based on the type of medical practice you have. For instance, if you are an OB-GYN doctor, it would be in your best interest to purchase an ultrasound machine that has a large all-purpose probe for abdominal scans. However, if you are a cardiologist, you may be in the market for an ultrasound machine that has a few different functions, including phased array probes and Doppler capabilities for advanced heart scans. The Philips iE33 is widely known for being the best and easiest to use cardiovascular ultrasound machine available on the market. Most healthcare professionals have graded iE33’s image quality and timesaving workflow as being top of the line. It is equipped with both 3D and 4D imaging, which is particularly useful in diagnosing and monitoring various medical conditions, such as tumors, kidney infections, and cancer cells.
Overall, there are four different types of ultrasound platforms: general, cardiac, vascular, and women’s health. Each differs in its own way in terms of software, imaging quality, and functionality. Consider your options in accordance with the needs of your specialty.
Determine and know your budget for the ultrasound machine
When you are shopping around for a new ultrasound machine, you need to determine a budget for the medical equipment. Consider the machine’s return on investment or the difference between paying cash up front versus leasing. For instance, with leasing, you may be able to pay back the partial monthly payments just by taking on two to three additional patients a month. What’s more, if you find yourself frequently upgrading your ultrasound machines, leasing may be the viable choice. However, this generally depends on the size and brand you are hoping to purchase. New ultrasound machines cost anywhere between $20,000 and $75,000, whereas used ultrasound machines typically cost between $5,000 and $40,000. Whether you decide to purchase a brand new or a used ultrasound machine, your budget should reflect the type of unit you are considering and its available features.
Factor in additional costs, such as installation, extra parts, and training
When purchasing an ultrasound machine, it will likely include all the basic equipment. However, you may need to purchase additional parts for the machine, depending on your area of expertise. The costs for standard probes are less than $1,000, however, if you are considering high-quality probes, they tend to rise in cost up to $5,000. You also need to take into account costs for installation and training, which can range anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000. If you are considering purchasing a more sophisticated system, your staff members may require specialized training in order to get the machine working to its full capacity. Moreover, standard installation may or may not be included in the original price of the machine. Make sure to ask the provider about any additional costs and training needs before signing any agreements.
Identify the features and probes you require
Once you have identified the specific use for the ultrasound machine in your specialty, you need to begin identifying the specific features you wish the machine to possess. Such features may include 3D and 4D options, Spatial Compound Imaging, Speckle Reduction Imaging, color Doppler, DICOM system, and more. Power productivity is also an important factor, as machines with lower power settings are less likely to cause tissue burns.
Probes are also crucial features to consider, and they vary depending on your activity. For instance, if you require an ultrasound for scanning superficial body structures, you may want to purchase an ultrasound machine with higher frequencies. On the other hand, an ultrasound machine with lower frequencies is typically used to scan deeper structures, such as the hip.
If you require assistance in getting the best features and probes for your ultrasound machine, consider selecting a credible and reliable provider to work with. They can help you find the right type of ultrasound machine best qualified to meet your specific needs.
Choose whether you prefer a portable or a static ultrasound machine
Once you have identified the use for the ultrasound, as well as the features and probes you want the machine to possess, it is time to choose whether you prefer a portable or a static ultrasound machine for your clinical setting. Ask yourself: Will I be taking the ultrasound out of the office? Do I intend to do house calls? If your answer is yes, you may want to consider getting a portable ultrasound machine. However, apart from mobility, there are also a few disadvantages to portable ultrasound machines. A portable ultrasound machine may not have the same image quality and probe selection as a static ultrasound machine. Then again, a static ultrasound machine tends to take up much-needed space due to its large size and bulky nature. Know your options and consider a compromise between size, cost, portability, and image quality.
Contact reputable and reliable providers
There are numerous brands and models of ultrasound machines to choose from. For this reason, contact a few reputable and reliable providers with whom you are familiar. If you are not familiar with any providers, ask your colleagues or other healthcare professionals for suggestions and recommendations. Give the provider the basic information on what you are looking for: the use of the machine, your budget, size requirements, and features you will be using. It is easier to trust someone who has been on the market for several years and strives to provide you with quality customer service. What’s more, if you stay in touch, you may be interested in purchasing additional instruments or ultrasound machines from the same provider in the years to come.
Test the ultrasound machine you are considering purchasing
The best approach to determine whether a product is working to its full capacity is to test it out. Once the provider has given you a basic overview of the machine, test it out and view the machine in action. In fact, many providers offer one-week loans for ultrasound machines. If the machine does not meet your expectations, consider trying out another model. However, if you are satisfied with the machine’s capabilities and it meets your needs and budget, you can decide whether or not you would like to purchase it.
Negotiate contract terms and service conditions
When purchasing a new ultrasound machine, you want to make sure the provider or manufacturer offers 24/7 support in case you ever have any questions or concerns, or if the machine requires maintenance. In other words, when you purchase a Phillips ultrasound or Mindray ultrasound, look at the duration of the ultrasound machine’s warranty. You want the ultrasound machine to have a one-year warranty at minimum. Negotiate the terms for any technical support and system updates before purchasing the medical equipment. You may even be able to extend the warranty’s duration or coverage on your service. Moreover, look over guaranteed response times, on-site repairs, cancellation fees, etc. If you require assistance, consider talking to an expert before signing any agreements.
Tip: the best warranties last between two to five years, include 24/7 customer support, and offer a sixty-day return policy with full reimbursement.
Consider if the ultrasound machine’s parts are easily available
When deciding to purchase an ultrasound machine, you need to consider if machine parts will be easily available to you should the machine break down and require repairs. As technology continues to advance, so do ultrasound machines. For instance, if you decide to purchase a used ultrasound machine, you also need to take into account that some parts may be older and no longer available. What’s more, some parts may not be compatible with the other elements in the machine. At the very least, make sure the basic parts of the ultrasound machine are readily available. These parts include monitors, keyboards, buttons, power supplies, and control panels.
Keeping all of these factors in mind, do a little bit of research before purchasing a brand new ultrasound machine. In the 21st century, as with all other computer technology, features tend to change even on a daily basis. Ultrasound machines are likely to become faster, transducer probes to get smaller, and 3D imaging to become more developed. Find out what are the most popular ultrasound machines being used, who is using them, and why they are so commonly used. You should be looking for an ultrasound machine that will offer you superior imaging resolution and quality anatomy detection. Furthermore, look towards purchasing a machine that is user-friendly, or, in other words, easy to use. No matter the system you are operating, all ultrasound machines have one thing in common: controls. You want to be able to get a grip on the specific controls you are using. At the end of the day, the higher your level of performance in operating the ultrasound system, the higher the level of satisfaction you will receive from patients.
At this point, you have already identified four key elements: specific use, budget, features and probes, and portable versus static. Next, you should contact a reliable provider and work out negotiation terms. Ask them to guide you towards making the decision that is in your and your practice's best interest. Test out the ultrasound machine you are considering purchasing on your patients and make sure it has all the bells and whistles you require. More importantly, consider an ultrasound machine that will not only save you money, but also provide you with the best quality and ensure the well-being of your patients. Now you are ready to begin selecting the right type of ultrasound machine for you—happy hunting!