Health & Fitness

What is a Mobile MRI Unit?

Mobile MRI

MRIs: A Brief History

Although Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI and its history reaching back some ninety years or so, the applications for this medical field are still for the most part relatively new, especially when considering the technological advances that have allowed it to evolve in leaps and bounds. 

Developed in the 1930s, it was not until around the 70s that the implications of varying MRI technologies gained some real traction in playing a crucial role in medical practices. 

In its long history, names of greatest relevance are those of the British scientists Peter Mansfield and Paul Lauterbur. They were both awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine back in the year 2003 for their combined efforts pertaining to the relevancy of MRIs. 

Additionally, another name worth mentioning is that of the American doctor, MRI pioneer, and scientist in Raymond Damadian. It was his tremendous understanding of these medical apparatuses which paved the way for MRIs to be able to detect medical conditions to make diagnoses for ailments such as cancer

To this day, the first ever full-body MRI scanner introduced back in 1977 is housed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 

What is a Mobile MRI?

To clear up any general sense of confusion or ambiguities, Mobile MRI units have nothing to do with smartphone devices or managing them through similar technological mediums. 

           In short, the terminology is utilized to describe the way in which these MRI units are portable, much like a mobile home, a trailer, or other vehicles of this composition that are on the go. Matter of factually, it would probably be best to conceptualize it as a trailer that houses an MRI machine, because, in essence, that is exactly what it is. 

In more technical terms, the Mobile MRI name is derived from the fact that it is a closed and independent trailer of approximately 48 feet that houses a full patient changing room, control room, and, of course, one high-quality MRI scanner.

When to Consider a Mobile MRI?

As with every major financial decision, there are a vast array of factors to bear in mind when considering whether or not a Mobile MRI unit is necessary for any given hospital. Generally speaking, in this particular instance, there are usually three reasons that most hospitals begin contemplating as to whether or not they should own or rent a Mobile MRI unit. 

` Arguably the most noticeable scenario in which a hospital would choose switching from a fixed MRI to a mobile unit or adding-on a mobile MRI unit is largely due to a matter of a limitation in the amount of available space. If there is not enough floor space or room to house the large MRI machine, the notion of a mobile model rapidly becomes a viable solution in circumventing this dilemma.

There are two huge advantages that cause healthcare providers to gravitate towards the Mobile MRI unit option. 

           Firstly, the housing shields the mobile scanners, which in turn safeguards both the quality of the machine’s imaging as well as the area surrounding it. 

           Secondly, there are fewer restrictions in terms of site requirements which makes this a more popularized selection amongst healthcare providers.

          A significant advantage of modular MRI machines housed in trailers is that the healthcare institutes that need them can further reduce their overall costs by simply renting out these specific units, as opposed to outright purchasing the costly machines. 

What is the Cost of a Mobile MRI Unit? 

Like any other business expenditure, there are a lot of variables to keep into consideration when deciding which products are going to give you the most return on your investment. 

It is of utmost importance to keep ROI in mind when determining whether or not a facility is better suited with a fixed MRI scanner, or one of the mobile units available in the market.

            At a glance, the total cost of what one might pay upfront and out the door for a Mobile MRI unit can be disheartening, especially seeing as to how they are considerably more expensive than one would expect to pay for the typical MRI. 

On average, a large hospital can anticipate spending anywhere between $250,000 to $2,500,000 plus for a fixed MRI system depending on whether or not it is refurbished or new. 

            In retrospect, the typical Mobile MRI unit will most likely range anywhere from $400,000 to $2,800,000 based on similar parameters. 

To the untrained eye, the additional price, which is largely due to the cost of the trailer in combination with the built-out system, may seem like an unnecessary risk. However, the mobility of these units generates more revenue than a fixed MRI scanner through their capacity to cover a wider range of services at different locations. 

The Dawn of a New Age in Medical Imaging

To date, there are a handful of medical imaging or radiology techniques utilized by healthcare professionals to assist in the process of diagnosing various diseases and ailments. Namely, they are that of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT scan), as well as that of ultrasounds, positron emission tomography (PET scan), and X-rays.

            According to Digital Authority, there are two titans within their respective industries that are making some serious headway in terms of applying Artificial Intelligence user interfaces in the applications of MRI scanning. Namely, the Chicago based company in Icometrix, and Artery which is located in San Francisco, California.  

In the progression of these medical trends, CT scans were the first of medical imaging devices to be available in a mobile format. From the aftermath of their success birthed the sudden spike that we can observe in the implementation of Mobile MRI technologies. 

  While it is seemingly impossible to try and predict or forecast the trajectory of a given service or product, it will be interesting to keep track of what the future of MRI scanning has in store for us. 

            Overall, mobility seems like an essential variable in this equation. There is definitely a need for Mobile MRI units, not only for hospitals in an effort to save space but also to be economical by being able to serve at more locations and come up with more plans to share units with other hospitals.

This article is contributed by Julian Gnatenco @ JGBilling