The powerful PET/CT imaging technique holds great promise in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases; however, its significant price tag may be a major factor for many small community hospitals that need such services but lack funding or patient volume to support an on-site fixed dedicated system, explained SNM member Shashi P. Khandekar, CNMT, with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio.
The Cleveland Clinic Health System, which includes CCF and nine community hospitals, decided to provide the mobile service on a break-even basis and took the mobile PET/CT service in-house, a move that would keep revenue within that health network. Since this past September, more than 900 patients have used the system's mobile PET/CT unit, an average of about six patients a day, said Khandekar. The cooperative efforts of all the hospitals have made it a successful operation, she added.
Over a period of about six months, planners worked out details of providing such a service: data connectivity, patient scheduling and transport of the mobile PET/CT truck. Patient scheduling was centralized and provided through a CCF call center. CCF and the participating regional hospitals determined the fee schedules (one based on per exam fee with a daily minimum, geared toward a start-up service, and one based on a flat fee per day for those with a solid referral pattern) and service requirements and outlined the route.
The mobile PET/CT unit, which came with a price tag of nearly $2.4 million, made it convenient for patients in the health system, said Khandekar, indicating that many patients are too
Contact: Maryann Verrillo
Society of Nuclear Medicine