Welcome to our FOSTERing WELLNESS blog. In this edition, I want to let you know about our digital x-ray unit and what it means to you, our valued clients. What it means for our environment and how it benefits you and aids in coordination of your care going forward.
Digital x-ray is cutting edge. It has been used in hospitals now for a little over 10 years, but some smaller hospitals have only adapted to the new technology in the last 4-5 years. Very few medical offices have digital units as they farm all the exams out to the hospital. Only in the last few years have chiropractors embraced the newer technology. The cost has been prohibitive and the return on investment was projected to be slow.
FOSTERing WELLNESS was the second chiropractic practice in Vermont to step into the digital age in x-ray imaging technology. We are probably the only chiropractic clinic system to have not just one, but two of the imaging units. We brought it on board in 2007 in theBrandon location and 2010 in the Rutland location. We will soon have it in our Randolph office as well.
What are the benefits to you as a health care consumer? Lower cost for one thing. Lower in so many ways. Because it is less time and labor intensive we have been able to hold our costs static since 2010. Do you think the hospitals have been able to to that? In fact, speaking of hospitals, did you know that the x-rays series that we charge approximately $150 for will cost you between $600 and $700 at the local medical clinic that is associated with the hospital.
In the interval between my old x-ray technology, (specially coated plastic film plates that had to be processed in a tank with developer and fixer and viewed in large view boxes hung on the wall) and my installation of the digital technology ( images captured and viewed on a computer monitor) I referred my patients to a local medical clinic x-ray exams They were still using old technology. Yes, I beat the local hospital affiliated clinic to the “digital technology” punch. During that time, I estimate that the hospital billed out nearly $70,000 for the services that would have been provided for about $9,000 if we had done them in our office. The first benefit you get from our office is cost savings.
The next benefit you get is “instant gratification.” I’m half joking here, but in a sense it is true. You will see your images develop before your eyes on the computer screen. No waiting for them to go into a dark room and then a processor and another appointment before you can see the images at all. We can begin our first adjustment with you, with some knowledge of the curves and concerns revealed by the images. We can instantly see contraindications to adjustments and determine proper angles of corrective alignment.
Another benefit of digital imaging is the rare need to perform a retake. Retakes add exposure to radiation. While relatively innocuous, we should all be concerned about unnecessary exposure to x-ray radiation. With digital imaging, we can manipulate contrast and shades of grey, similar to your own digital photography on your smart phone. You can take out the “red eye” or turn your photos to black and white or cepia tone with software enhancements. In digital x-ray imaging, we do the same kind of thing, sometimes taking an image that looks of questionable use and turning it into a very “readable” and useful image. This saves time and extra exposure. Digital imaging often uses lower doses of radiation in the first place. These factors combine to make digital imaging safer.
The benefits of digital just keep coming. If we have obtained your images, we can now do a number of things with them. In the old days, your films would be stored in a different room. To review these films we would have to look up the file number and go find your file amongst the thousands we had on hand. We literally had one room devoted solely to keeping track of films. We would then have to bring them out, unroll them and put them in a view box for review. After your visit, we would have to reverse the process to re-file the films. All of this took time, and time is money. Yours, and mine. If we were running behind, we might not have time to go through this process and would have to reschedule you for another appointment, (more time and money). Now, when we pull up your office treatment notes, your images are pulled up as well. It only takes a moment to retrieve and review your images and it can be done on every single office visit without adding significantly to your time. This keeps the cost of your office visits down.
Because we have them digitized, in just a few moments we can make a copy of the images and put them on a CD. You can keep the CD and give it to your other providers for their review. You don’t have to “check” them out and return them to us like in the past. For a nominal fee, we can make as many copies of them as you need. You could easily pack the CD in your luggage and go on a trip and go see another chiropractor or any physician and bring your images along. This will allow you to likely avoid unnecessary retakes or duplication of services and allow a new or interim doctor to have confidence about treating you safely and effectively on short notice. The images can even be transmitted between doctors via email.
There are many reasons that digital is better than the old technology and many reasons that you personally benefit from FOSTERing WELLNESS’ commitment to staying up to date with cutting edge technology. We all benefit by keeping costs down. It helps us to stay competitive and makes it easier for our clients to remain committed to being healthy. It also helps our environment. The old way used lots of water, contributed to toxic waste, and used large amounts of electricity to heat the chemicals and the water and required lots of storage space to keep the records handy and then required more manpower and produced more waste when the images were destroyed after 7 years.
We are proud to be offering this leading edge technology to our clients and we are proud that it offers so many positives to their care, their lives and to our environment. If you are not yet a FOSTERing WELLNESS practice member, give us a call. Digital imaging isn’t the only area where we are leading the field.
Dr. Charles L. Foster