This is the first of a 9-part series of articles intended to walk you through all the ins-and-outs of purchasing capital equipment for a veterinary practice. Far too often important steps/factors are glossed over during the sales process, items that may not be clearly defined on product literature. Missed information can lead to confusion prior to purchase, other information gaps can lead to more serious issues down the line, when there is no turning back.
With almost no exception, you see cases of Osteoarthritis (OA) – the most common type of, if not virtually synonymous with, Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) — every week in your clinic. Depending on the source, OA is reported to affect between 6-25% of animals in the general population, with that number growing at alarming rates.
As a degenerative disease, i.e. one that gets irreversibly worse with time, it is critical to catch the condition early and act quickly. This article outlines the three fundamental steps to keep your patients on all-fours:
• Look: Your pet owners can help with awareness at home
• Find: Digital Radiography can help to see inside that inflamed joint
• Treat: Laser Therapy can help to Stop Inflammation, Reduce Pain, and Increase Mobility.
SOUND recently surveyed its entire laser install base to get feedback on their implementation. We asked questions about clinical efficacy, workflow integration, and financial viability. An encouraging percentage (over half) of our installs responded with answers to our questions as well as open-ended feedback.
Our customers reported exciting levels of success across the board, especially with respect to:
• Clinical efficacy
• Decrease in concurrent medication
• Ease of implementation
• Immediate & Sustainable Profitability
• Growth opportunities
Laser therapy is one of the fastest growing modalities in veterinary medicine. This trend started about a decade ago, and now about one in every three clinics employs therapy laser, with hundreds of new clinics implementing lasers every month.
Despite this solid install base, virtually none of the laser manufacturers have built a laser that can integrate into a working veterinary clinic from a data-connectivity perspective. But that landscape is changing, leading to some serious benefits in technician workflow and clinic financials.
Some of these integration points are:
• Practice Management Systems via Modality Work List (MWL)
• PACS Archiving
• Direct to the Pet-Owner Communication
If you’re shopping for a veterinary ultrasound machine, you certainly don’t want to overpay or buy features that you will not use. In the same vein, you don’t want to spend good money on an ultrasound of lower quality, one that may be unreliable and need to be replaced in two-to-three years with little-to-no resale or trade-in value.
The cost of your ultrasound will ultimately depend on how you intend to use it:
• If you are looking for a basic ultrasound to get started, what are the must haves?
• Do you need a more capable system for performing cardiology exams?
• Do you need a portable system or is a console system a better solution?
• Regardless of what I am getting, what are my training requirements?
What are the most important factors that go into the upfront cost of an ultrasound system?
• Caseload and the Needs of Your Practice: Species Diversity, Types of Exams
• Portability Requirements: System Size and Functions
• Number and Type of Transducers
• What’s Included in the Standard Package including education options
Ultrasonography and radiography are the two most popular imaging modalities in veterinary medicine, and each has its pros and cons. In some cases, both ultrasound and radiography are used to evaluate a patient; they should be considered complimentary imaging modalities.
Radiographs provide a snapshot of large areas of an animal’s body. Digital Radiography (DR) offers superior images of bones, the lungs, and gas-filled organs such as the gastrointestinal tract.
Ultrasound enables veterinarians to evaluate the detailed internal architecture of organs. When diagnosing conditions related to the heart, soft tissues, fluid build-up, and parenchymal disease of organs, ultrasonography is far more useful and accurate than radiography.
So what are the four conditions that are more accurately diagnosed using ultrasound vs. DR?
• Detection of Abnormal Fluid Accumulation
• Abnormal Abdominal Organs
• Heart Disease
• Soft Tissues of the Musculoskeletal System
If you’re in the market for a veterinary ultrasound machine, the last thing you want to do is buy a system that is prone to malfunctions or that offers low image quality. These are two of the most common problems associated with ultrasound systems, but they’re certainly not the only ones.
Some veterinarians do not appreciate the value of creating a plan to implement ultrasound in their practice before they make the purchase. This can greatly reduce the use of ultrasound in your clinic and cut into your return on investment. Other veterinarians overlook the importance of having a good service contract and making their ultrasound purchase from a reliable vendor.
In this article, we’ll explain how to avoid the following three common problems with ultrasound so you maximize the value of your new modality:
• Not having enough confidence in your abilities to recommend ultrasound to clients
• Purchasing a machine with low image quality
• Grappling with hardware and software issues
Ultrasonography is becoming the new standard in veterinary imaging. As a diagnostic tool, ultrasound is faster and more accurate in diagnosing certain conditions than radiography. It’s also becoming more and more affordable. The University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine anticipates that ultrasound equipment could become as prevalent as radiography machines in veterinary practices. (1)
The principal reasons for in-house veterinary ultrasound are:
• Versatility in anatomy and pathology that can be imaged
• Shortening the Time to Diagnosis
• Better Clinical Results
• Expanding to New Niches
• Increased Referrals
• A Way to Stop Losing Revenue
In recent years, ultrasound has become mainstream in the veterinary industry. But why? What are the top reasons people are investing in veterinary ultrasound?
• Advancements in the technology
• Affordable pricing to veterinarians as well as to pet-owners
• Reduced Diagnostic Costs
• Discovery of new diagnostic applications and specialty niches
• Increase referral network
Now that you’ve made the decision to invest in an ultrasound system, there are several factors to consider before making the purchase. One of the most important is whether to buy a console or portable ultrasound
Each design has its own advantages. Most console systems have more room for processors due to their larger size, which increases processing power and ultimately improves image quality. But today, portable systems tend to offer high image quality that is on par with smaller console systems.
Portable systems are also easier to carry from location to location within your hospital and they allow you to diagnose patients offsite, which opens your practice to specialty niches such as equine, farm, zoo, and marine animal care.
Let’s take a look at a few important factors to consider when choosing between a console and portable ultrasound system: