Upgrading a major piece of imaging equipment such as an MRI, CT or PET/CT is an investment that can improve operations, maximize profitability and increase patient and physician satisfaction. Yet any upgrade project is a challenge, rife with potential pitfalls. A well-executed imaging equipment upgrade can save time, reduce costs, and significantly minimize disruption in operations. However, a poorly managed upgrade can be disastrous in terms of the cost overruns, patient dissatisfaction and employee frustration.
With so much riding on a successful upgrade, how do you reduce the risks? Here we discuss the necessary steps to managing a successful imaging equipment upgrade.
1. Equipment Planning
Upgrading major equipment can have far reaching effects throughout your facility – from engineering and construction to safety and patient flows. Timing is key to ensuring a seamless transition.
- Finalize the type of equipment to be installed. The earlier you select the equipment, the sooner you can start planning for its implementation.
- Determine the requirements of your upgrade; new equipment can have different system, staffing, and building mechanical electrical plumbing (MEP) and structural requirements.
2. Team Assembly
Assembling the right team in planning for the upgrade can avoid human obstacles, mitigate challenges and ease transition.
- Consult with system users and key clinical stakeholders to reduce anxiety and mitigate challenges throughout the project. Some upgrades may require participation from specialists such as a physicist or radiation safety officer.
- Involve the facilities department in critical planning activities.
- Consult with key leadership to address possibilities of future change in procedures, volume, staff and other variables.
- Select an architect, engineer or qualified designer early on to provide expertise and knowledge, which can result in lower project costs, faster implementation, and a quicker start-up.
3. Interim Mobile Planning
Upgrades don’t happen overnight. An interim mobile modality is the best way to maintain patient volume during an equipment upgrade and construction. In planning for the interim, consider:
- Pad requirements. If your facility currently has a concrete pad available for use, do the due diligence to ensure that the pad is durable enough to safely park a mobile trailer. If your facility does not have a mobile pad, be sure to include one in the scope and budget of the project.
- Ensure proper exterior power connections prior to delivery of the interim mobile modality.
- Verify that there is adequate space to park the interim mobile modality exactly where you want it, including space requirements for maneuvering.
4. Workflow Improvement Planning
Consider improvements to your imaging suite that will improve workflow and increase patient and staff satisfaction. As value-based care continues to raise the bar on patient standards, an equipment upgrade offers an excellent opportunity to identify innovative, cost-effective approaches to reduce stress and increase comfort in the imaging suite. Implement new requirements issued by healthcare and industry accrediting agencies like Joint Commission, ACR, etc.
5. Design Planning
Initiate introductory and ongoing design planning meetings with design professionals and the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) project manager.
- Present OEM planning information and suggested suite improvements.
- Map out the scope of the project, monitors and controls, and integration.
- Define specific deliverables to meet project objectives and performance standards for quality assurance.
Construction costs can escalate quickly during an upgrade without proper project scheduling. Setting realistic timelines can help identify major factors that can increase project schedules, budget and operational requirements.
A credible, reliable and accurate cost estimate is critical in developing a workable project budget. Develop a budget that includes all direct and indirect costs for the project and continue to refine the budget as the project progresses. Be sure to develop cost control and contingency plans to insure against unexpected costs during construction.
8. Construction Planning
Assess the special construction (shielding, chilled water system, UPS) that may be needed or may require upgrading as well.
- Perform shielding testing pre- and post-equipment delivery, and complete shielding modifications that may be necessary for the new equipment.
- Plan for emergency backup MEP systems to minimize equipment down time.
- Prepare for imaging suite modifications due to building code changes, standards of care, or other regulatory agency policies.
- Be sure to plan for isolation of the project area from the rest of the department for infection control, and to minimize impact on patients and personnel.
9. Interim Equipment Planning
Avoid expensive downtime and patient backlog during equipment upgrades and construction projects by researching and securing interim mobile imaging several months in advance of the project’s commencement.
- Decide whether to use current equipment or perhaps the new equipment, which will affect the cost of the interim mobile budget line item.
Although imaging equipment upgrades can seem daunting, proper planning can ensure a smooth transition and these nine steps can put you on the road to success.
At KMG, we believe it our responsibility as your partner to help you assess your equipment needs. Contact David Sweitzer our Director of Operations today if you’re contemplating an imaging equipment upgrade.