por Diana Bradley
, Staff Writer | February 13, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
A conventional CR room requires film, storage jackets, film storage units, view boxes to read the film and extra people to carry the film. When you look at what it costs to operate that equipment day in and day out, the cost of a DR room is justified, according to Sbordone. Further to this, OEMs like IMIX can take a $50,000 conventional room and for another $40,000 make it a DR room.
“Our consumer market is educated now and for the most part understands the financial benefits and value of having DR over film or CR,” Sbordone says.
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But while DR rapidly gains popularity and comes down in price, CR prices are also coming down. As a result, CR is still holding a share of the market, albeit it’s a shrinking one.
“Many small practices already have CR or just can’t justify the difference in price,” says Fabrizio.
In the end, it all comes down to proper planning and mathematics for those weighing whether a DR or CR system will provide what’s needed for their facility. Also, potential buyers need to be aware of the long-term total cost of ownership.
“Most customers think a completely digital room will last as long as an analog room (25 years),” says Cefalo. “But everything in a DR room – electronic stuff including PCs and DR panels – will wear out more quickly than an analog room. When you add all those things up, the total long-term cost of ownership may not be what people planned for.”
And the cost to replace damaged equipment is also an important consideration. To completely replace a CR plate costs an estimated $2,000, whereas if a customer damages a portable DR plate and they don’t have the right kind of service contract or replacement coverage, the customer could face a massive liability. To counteract this, most OEMs offer coverage programs protecting customers’ investments.
If a DR panel is one that needs to be moved or rotated, the risk of it being dropped is higher. Aside from drop insurance, OEMs occasionally offer non-portable DR products and protective encasements to minimize damage risk. IMIX sells fixed detectors and encasements for tethered and wireless portable detectors that fit on their X-ray devices. Flat panel detectors made with amorphous silicon architecture can also alleviate fragility concerns, according to Varian’s Hurlock.
“Our panels manufactured with amorphous silicon are not particularly sensitive to temperature variations, they don’t suffer image degradation over time and they pass a one-meter drop test,” he says.
Converting: Old habits die easy
In the past, the trend for many manufacturers was to integrate CR and DR, creating graphic user interfaces similar enough to reduce a learning curve for customers trying to transition, according to Sbordone. If a customer wanted to buy a DR room for a new room replacement, they would buy CR for their other rooms that were still in good condition so they could “go digital” in an affordable manner. But with DR prices decreasing, this is no longer the case.