Investing in 3D Technology: CBCT and ROI

As a small business owner, I have to consider the return on the investment when purchasing capital equipment for my practice. So it’s only natural for me to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the investment before I decide to implement a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) system into my office. After making these considerations, I determined that having a 3D imaging unit readily available could help my practice by:

  • eliminating the loss of revenue that comes with sending a patient to a third-party imaging center;

  • improving patient satisfaction (thus retaining patient base and garnering word-of-mouth referrals); and

  • increasing case acceptance through faster—and more confident—diagnoses and treatment planning.

Eliminating Revenue Loss

There is no question that CBCT imaging is critical in certain situations, such as placing an implant or looking for an extra canal before performing an endodontic procedure. As such, when a case required 3D imaging, I would have to send patients to a third-party imaging center. Because patients typically pay anywhere from $200-$300 for the scan, I was losing revenue that could have been kept in house.

Another downside to consider is that if a patient doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of going somewhere else for a scan, then he or she is also more likely to ignore my recommended treatment plan. Being able to diagnose problems and design treatment plans during the same appointment helps me avoid this problem so patients no longer have to wait for their images and are less likely to back out of treatment.

Improving Patient Satisfaction

Many patients are used to being referred to an imaging center for a scan, so when my staff and I tell them we can take the image right away in our practice, their perception of our competency definitely improves. Simply put, having advanced technology—such as CBCT—allows us to provide better service, which in turn translates to better patient retention and more referrals to family and friends.

Increased Case Acceptance

It’s no secret that when patients can see their mouths on the screen, they’re more likely to “own” their diagnosis. When I walk a patient through a realistic 3D image, they are better able to see problems than with a panoramic or periapical radiograph.

CBCT imaging improves patient communication and education through visualization, which has played a large role in case acceptance. It also helps me to perform faster diagnosis and treatment planning.

3D Imaging Delivers ROI

If you are looking at price alone, it’s apparent that the ROI associated with 3D imaging systems is easier to determine now than in the past because the cost of CBCT units keeps coming down. And, while some may argue the ROI and claim the unit is just going to collect dust, I have personally found the system to be invaluable to my practice.

But it’s much more than that. CBCT imaging has also helped the way I work by improving diagnoses and patient care. As such, the real ROI is in my patients’ case acceptance and treatment.

What factors do you consider when evaluating the ROI of imaging equipment?

David Little, D.D.S. Contributor