Upgrading to DR Makes Financial Sense

Digital radiography (DR) is amazing technology that is revolutionizing radiology departments across the nation (and has been for years). However, some facilities have been hesitant to upgrade from their existing computed radiography (CR) X-ray systems, mostly for financial reasons.

The situation is becoming more complicated for those who are holding on to their CR systems.

On January 1, 2018, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) started assessing a penalty of 7% on technical reimbursement for X-ray exams conducted on CR equipment. Very soon, they intend to increase the penalty to a steeper 10%.

This significant revenue impact is causing some to reconsider an upgrade to DR technology, but there are even more reasons (that impact profitability) to make the switch today.

A graphic depicting the arm of a computed radiography machine is shown against a purple background.

Speed: The Biggest Advantage of DR Over CR

Let’s talk about the most important reason to upgrade to DR first: Getting faster results is the primary reason you should upgrade from CR to DR.

Faster imaging means more expedient patient care.

CR uses photo-stimulated luminescence screens contained within a cassette to capture an image. The cassette must be transferred to a reader to convert the captured data into an image to be displayed, printed, or stored.

In short, the CR imaging process requires a significant amount of valuable time to produce the necessary scans that doctors and other medical care professionals need when they make decisions and begin patient care.

On the other hand, DR uses a system of flat panels that transfer image data directly from the detector to a screen, allowing images to be viewed almost instantaneously across all departments, workstations, and facilities connected to the network.

Increased efficiency means better and more expedient patient care, but it also directly increases patient throughput. More patients can be served, department productivity increases, and more revenue is earned.

Time is money.

Reduction in Space Dedicated to Equipment

Limited space is almost always an issue, and upgrading physical facilities is expensive. This barrier is often reported by smaller medical facilities and practices hoping to perform in-house radiology services.

Computed radiography systems are typically large, bulky, and generally require a dedicated room, which means they are less practical for many facilities with limited space.

On the other hand, digital radiography systems are smaller and much more adaptable. Special configurations utilizing a straight arm or U-arm make in-house radiology services possible for many practices with limited space available.

Portable DR machines are also a possibility. They can be moved without being anchored to a specific area within the facility, further reducing the need for dedicated space. Patients can be scanned in exam rooms without the need to transfer them to another area, which increases speed and efficiency in addition to saving space.

The Initial Price

There are a lot of reasons to upgrade to digital radiography or to purchase a DR system to add radiology services to your current practice.

However, budget constraints exist for any facility, and a higher initial price to acquire DR equipment can cause some concern.

The factors we’ve just mentioned, including speed of patient care that increases throughput and less dedicated space/facilities for your equipment mean a significantly lower cost per image.

A lower cost per image leads to increased profitability over time, which reduces the impact of the higher initial price for the equipment itself.

When you factor in the penalties being assessed against CR-based radiology services, digital radiography begins to make much more sense.


When facing what may feel like an overwhelming initial price, especially for something that may feel unavoidable, like converting your practice over to DR, one of the options that Southwest X-Ray provides to help you get the equipment you need is financing.

We have close relationships with a wide variety of reputable financing agencies. We consistently trust them to structure reasonable, affordable financing options that best suits our clients’ budgets, no matter the size of the budget or the financial constraints in play.

This service can ultimately make moving forward with your plans to upgrade your practice much easier and more realistic than you might think.

Southwest X-Ray Offers Custom Digital Radiography Solutions

At Southwest X-Ray, we understand that every medical practice or facility has unique needs that will require individualized solutions, and upgrading to DR from CR is no exception.

If you feel the benefits of digital radiography might meet the needs of your medical facility or practice, or if you’re looking to expand your patient care possibilities, contact one of our sales representatives.

Contact us here today.


Shad Merchant

Shad Merchant is an industry veteran with experience in every aspect of the X-ray and imaging industry, having spent over 20 years assisting small medical practices, massive hospital systems, and everyone in between, all over the world, to find the right imaging solution for their needs. Contact him at shadm@swxray.com to learn more about what equipment is right for you.

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