Digital X-ray: Do I Need One in My Office?

:dropcap_open:S:dropcap_close:o, you are considering “transforming” your practice? Or maybe starting a brand new or satellite office? What are some of the things you should keep in mind in making decisions on just what your practice will offer? What should it look like? What kind of vibe would you like it to put out? And how does the decision of installing digital x-ray (DXR) affect your practice? 
As they say, there are “many ways to skin a cat.” Each practice is a reflection of its doctor; there is no one right way to operate a practice. That being said, generally speaking, most “successful” practices today should seek to: 
  1. medicalrecordsfilesAppear modern, cutting edge, and up-to-speed with other health care practices. Patients are turned off when walking into a practice that appears to be circa 1975. They simply don’t feel comfortable with a “tired” atmosphere, complete with old adjustment tables with torn padding. 
  2. Offer technology that provides convenience to the patient, in terms of comfort, functionality and time savings. As “Larry the Cable Guy” would say, “Git er done.” More than ever before, people are busy and don’t have the luxury of taking an inordinate amount of time for an office visit. If an appointment takes too long, they will stop coming, period. 
  3. Give a patient confidence that the technology employed is state-of-the-art. No one wants to be treated by any health care professional if they think there are better protocols and/or technologies that could be utilized.  Is your patient education a VCR tape on an old, low resolution TV? That probably won’t cut it.
  4. Take advice and follow models of other successful practices. Once the wheel was invented, you could pretty much assume that the wheel was a great idea and should be utilized. If you see a true (with the same type of practice in the same type of neighborhood) peer of yours successfully implementing a new technology or protocol, you don’t need to be a “doubting Thomas” – you can jump-start your own advancement by learning from the successful model of others. 
How does this apply to DXR?
As you are making decisions regarding your new or “re-invented” office, you would be well-advised to consider whether incorporating DXR is a quality fit for you and your practice. And I will say that DXR is not a fit for every doctor, so I am in no way asserting that DXR is a no-brainer for all chiropractors, because it simply isn’t. However, for those practices that fit the profile, DXR offers great benefits to not only the doctor, but to the patient as well. 
Mr. Green Jeans
Obviously, we live in a world that is increasingly focused on being “green” and that trend is only going to intensify as time passes. Young people are more aware of acting in a planet-friendly manner, more so than baby boomers, etc. so “being green” is not a fad that will ever disappear. It is not a “pet rock,” so to speak, but a lasting trend that will be ever-increasing. (If you aren’t old enough to understand the “pet rock” analogy, my apologies.) 
:dropcap_open:An office utilizing flat-screen monitors and the like generally will give the impression of a more cutting-edge practice.:quoteleft_close:
One of the features that DXR contributes is the fact that it eliminates the toxic odor of chemicals present when you are using a film x-ray unit. People are more sensitive than ever to things like a chemical odor and going digital completely eliminates that negative presence.
Less radiation exposure for everyone
Using DXR reduces the exposure to harmful radiation, which the public is more aware of than ever. With cancer on virtually everyone’s minds, the patients are generally very leery of exposure to radiation and will appreciate having digital technology as opposed to exposure to traditional x-rays.  
Time is money
Not only does going with DXR save time for the doctor, but it also saves the patient’s time as well, and they will appreciate that. You get your images instantly, as opposed to waiting for film to develop, or, of course, sending the x-rays off to another party. Also, if you need a re-take, you also know that immediately and without additional costs, as you are not using film or chemicals in the first place. Additional x-rays cost virtually nothing. You can take them until you get what you need, in terms of images that display the needed elements. 
Additionally, if your patient wants a copy of the x-ray, you can easily hand him a computer disk or email the image, while you have your copy of the image forever. When using film, you typically have only one copy, so you can’t give out a copy to your patient without risking your own image. 
digitalxrayvsfilmPatient education, compliance and retention
Giving your patient an image of their spine helps with patient education, compliance and retention – all at no additional cost with each image you hand out. This allows the patient to more fully understand, and retain, the reality of their condition. And a better educated patient is a more likely retained patient. 
Expert analysis on-hand
You will have to check with each individual DXR vendor, but some offer a radiologist on-hand to help analyze images, which you can easily email. When in doubt, the guidance of a radiologist to interpret digital images can be invaluable, and, in some cases, costs you no additional charges. When in doubt, check with your radiologist, at no additional expense. 
Developing a high-end image
In practice, you are not only competing with other chiropractors, but you are also being compared to all other health care practices in general. We know that MDs, etc. generally have offices that reflect an upper-scale, high-end image. If patients visit a chiropractor and the office is full of antiquated technologies – including a film-based x-ray unit, it will cause the patients to conjure a poor image of the practice.  An office utilizing flat-screen monitors and the like generally will give the impression of a more cutting-edge practice. Yes, it is true that chiropractors encourage an image of being non-surgical and have an aversion to using drugs — unless absolutely necessary – but the two are not mutually exclusive. In other words, you still want a practice that appears somewhat sleek and modern while not advocating allopathic medicine in general. 
Extra room to roam
Eliminating your film-based x-ray equipment will allow for additional space in your office. Most doctors of chiropractic struggle to make do with the square footage of their office space; there is a fine line between paying for space and having enough room for not only a waiting room, treatment rooms, etc., but also some space for retail products such as pillows, topicals, in-home rehab, etc. When you convert to DXR, you free up space otherwise used for storing images, film, chemicals and the like. Most chiropractic offices need every square inch they can find and going DXR gives you that little bit of extra space that might make a difference. 

Andrew Cheesman is Sr. VP Marketing and Sales for RF System Lab North America, based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Their head office is based in Nagano, Japan. They have over 2,000 users in the US and several thousands worldwide. They are now the largest digital retrofit company in the world. You can reach them at 800-905-1554 or visit or email [email protected].

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