The small town of Bad Nauheim, close to Frankfurt, Germany, has a quiet and care-free feel. But looks can be deceiving. The same cost pressures felt by clinics elsewhere are also felt here. Reimbursement from German health insurers has steadily fallen. Over the past two decades, payments for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans have decreased in nominal terms – that is, without adjustment for inflation – by about one-half. Faced with such income declines, Associate Professor Axel Küttner, a partner of Bad Nauheim’s Radiology Practice, says “We’re torn between the realities of balancing the books and providing our patients with the highest quality treatment.” The Radiology Practice and the adjacent Sports Clinic square this circle by subsidizing their statutory health insurance patients by also treating the elite of professional athletes. Sporting luminaries – most notably Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher – are known to rely on the expertise of the Sports Clinic’s founder, Johannes Peil, MD.
The clientele of famous sportsmen and sportswomen is an important part of the clinic’s trade, but the Sports Clinic most prominently stands out from its competitors because of its dedicated focus on patient comfort. “Patients don’t really want to be here,” Peil concedes. “It makes a real difference if we can improve the quality of their experience.” Instead of a hospital-like ‘patient experience’, the atmosphere is much closer to that of a private home. The color scheme is varied and inviting; the facilities are spacious and comfortable; natural light floods the building. Even the MRI rooms have a human touch. Walls are decorated to blend into the scanners, making the latter less optically imposing. Sizeable windows let in the sun, and allow patients to gaze out upon the neighboring horse meadows during a scan. “Patients feel comfortable here,” Thomas Maier, MD, managing partner of the Radiology Practice says. “Many don’t rush off after an appointment. Often they will stay for a chat with the staff, or a coffee on the veranda.”
Plug and play
So, why did the Radiology Practice choose a MAGNETOM Spectra1MRI system? Not because its 3 Tesla (T) field strength is new to the market, but until now, for a practice – as opposed to a hospital – it has been a luxury. In addition, earlier MRI systems have been much more complex. Not so the MAGNETOM Spectra, that offers 3T field strength at an attractive total cost of ownership (TCO) and combines outstanding image quality with an excellent usability. According to Küttner, Tim® (Total imaging matrix) and Dot® (Day optimizing throughput) technologies organize the work for the MRI operator. “Our exams are guided by the system and we always get excellent results.” A typical cardiac exam on a 1.5-T scanner with conventional software takes an hour. With 3T and Tim and Dot, this time can be significantly reduced.
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