In the October index, the average price paid for a CT scanner was $918,485, showing a decline for the fourth consecutive month. The ECRI Institute's analysis suggests the trend was driven by recent interest in standard 64-slice systems, which cost significantly less than premium scanners now on the market in models and configurations that cost as much as $2.2 million.
Jason Launders, a medical physicist and director of operations for ECRI, said manufacturers have been introducing systems in the middle range of the market in response to a “huge push to get their prices down.”
Hospitals facing reimbursement cuts, Launders said, are recalibrating what level of CT technology makes the most sense for them. “A few years back everyone wanted the latest and greatest to compete in whatever market you're in,” he said. Now they're reasoning, “We're not willing to spend that extra money to get the latest technology that's not proven clinically.”
Providers also paid significantly more on average for MRI systems than they did at the same time last year. Although the average cost of $1.93 million was a 0.8% dip from October, it was 56% higher than in October 2011. ECRI attributes the trend to heightened interest in 3T MRI systems—Tesla is the measurement unit for the strength of the magnetic field—which usually cost more than $2 million.