Monthly Archives: October 2016

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Four Tips for Lowering Healthcare Costs

 

 

 

Health care costs are incredibly high  in America, especially when  compared to the universal coverage  offered by many other countries.  Often you’ll hear patients griping  about their medical bills, wondering  why they were charged over $1,000  for something as simple as getting an  IV to tens of thousands of dollars for  more serious procedures. And the  truth is, they’re not wrong to be  upset! There are two big reasons why  patients find themselves constantly  barraged by medical bills that are ten times as much as they thought they would be.

The first reason? Price transparency.

There’s a serious lack of price transparency in the medical world. Costs for procedures can vary by thousands of dollars from facility to facility, and most patients never see this pricing information until the procedure is completed and the bill shows up at their door.

The second reason? Patients aren’t treating themselves like consumers.

Many patients forget that at the end of the day, even in an industry like the medical industry, they are still consumers. You wouldn’t pay $10 for a banana at Publix if you could get the same banana for $1 at Walmart. That just doesn’t make sense. As a consumer, the best thing you can do to cut costs and make sure you’re getting the best bargain is to shop around. So why wouldn’t you take the same approach when it comes to shopping for a medical procedure?

Most patients have the ability to save themselves hundreds if not thousands of dollars on their procedures by simply adopting a consumer mindset and using that approach when it comes to their health care. Here are four consumer-oriented tips from Harvard Business Review’s Jeffrey T. Kullgren that you should use to make sure you’re getting the best bargain when it comes to your healthcare.

Tip 1: Budgeting. Ask your provider to forecast what health care services you will need in the next year. Then, use price information to estimate the costs of these services so that you can save money to pay for them.

Tip 2: Shopping. When your provider orders a service, check whether this service is offered at other nearby facilities at a lower cost for someone with your insurance. Compare prices among facilities by using online tools or by contacting facilities directly.

Tip 3: Talking with providers. Make sure your provider knows if you have a deductible for your care, and keep track of whether you have met the deductible. That’s how you help your provider consider cost when making decisions with you about your health care.

Tip 4: Negotiation. When facilities quote a price for a service, ask if they would accept a lower amount. You might be pleasantly surprised, particularly if you can justify your lower offer with a quote from another facility nearby.

Bargain shopping isn’t easy, especially in a medical industry that’s known for poor price transparency and high disparity in costs for procedures, but by adopting a consumer mindset and following these simple tips, you can save yourself a lot of money and heartbreak while keeping your healthcare costs low!

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MRI checklist: What to ask your doctor before you get an MRI

mri-checklistMRI’s can be nerve-wracking, especially for first timers. Usually, the patient is unsure what an MRI will be like and they are nervous about what could possibly be wrong. We understand that undergoing an MRI can be stressful which is why it’s always good to come into our office prepared. Let’s explore what the right questions to ask your doctor before you get an MRI.

 

  • What MRI size is the best for the type of MRI I am receiving?

MRI bore size is an extremely important topic when regarding MRI scans. There are three different types of bore sizes, wide, closed, and open. Each bore size comes with unique pros and cons. At Pueblo, we provide an open bore MRI, which in our opinion makes the patient more comfortable and relaxed during their exam.

 

  • Why am I getting an MRI rather than another imaging procedure?

This question usually gets overlooked when patients are told to get an MRI. There are various imaging procedures, and an MRI is just one of them. Obviously, the doctor prescribed you an MRI for a reason, but ask your doctor exactly why so that there is no confusion in diagnosing what ever may be wrong.

 

  • How will the results change my treatment?

This is a great question to ask to your referring physician because it helps you determine a plan for the future. Once you have a game plan for what could happen, the scan will feel like a breeze. If you know what the possibilities for treatment are you will feel calm and prepared for the rest of your exam.

 

  • Should I go to an outpatient center for my MRI?

Usually your doctor will know of many places that you can get an MRI. This is why it’s important to ask other questions to your doctor such as, ‘Is the center ACR accredited?’, ‘What kind of prices do they have on MRIs?’. These types of questions will give you more of a clue as where to go for an affordable, high quality MRI.

 

If you’re looking for a great outpatient imaging center, then Open MRI of Pueblo might be the best for you. We are ACR accredited, have low prices, and take the care of our patients seriously. Call us to schedule an appointment now at 719-404-0997

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Grateful, It’s Good for You!

 

be-grateful

 

November is a special month. For one month in the year, people are encouraged and inspired to be thankful for what they have in their lives, whether it be friends, family, good health, material possessions, or something else. Possibly the most unfortunate thing is that it is only in November that we see people thinking and talking about being thankful.

Studies have shown that regularly practicing being grateful can actually have positive health benefits. Psychology professor Robert Emmons, who teaches at the University of California at Davis, has spent years researching the field that he calls “positive psychology”, and he’s found that “those who adopt an attitude of gratitude as a permanent state of mind experience many health benefits”.

Some of these health benefits include:

1) Improved mental alertness

2) Ability to cope better with stress and daily challenges

3) Stronger immune systems

4) Less problematic physical symptoms

5) Having a happier and more optimistic mindset

Those who are grateful also tend to exercise more, eat a healthier diet, and take better care of themselves both in a physical and mental state. So often we look for outside ways to improve our health when really, the key can be something as simple as adopting a grateful mindset about our lives and the people around us.

So this November, we encourage you to take being thankful past Thanksgiving, to carry it through Christmas, New Year’s, and into the following season. It’s such a small step to take to increase your health, and it’s something everybody should strive to do.

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Safe in moderation: Radiation

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You’ve heard all the rumors, and the myths, that any type of radiation is absolutely terrible for your body. When you go to get an MRI, or an x-ray, these lingering myths are stuck in your head. They deter you from getting a procedure done because most people are terrified of these myths. We are here to clear up any confusion about the misconceptions of radiation. Simply put, radiation is safe for you, in moderation. Here’s why:

 

What is radiation?

The scientific definition of radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through space, and from naturally occurring radioactive materials contained in the earth. MRI’s, and x-rays give off tiny does of radiation to the body.

 

Why does radiation get a bad rep?

Basically, ionizing radiation can directly impact cells and damage their inner cell body. The DNA in the cells can be damaged, and they can mutate and have damaged DNA. This can cause diseases, such as cancer.

 

What emits radiation?

Surprisingly, a ton of everyday items have radiation. Items such as your TV, cell phones, computers, bananas, and avocados. These all have radiation in them that we are all exposed to. Shocking, right!?

 

What’s a safe dose of radiation?

 

Don’t go throwing away your fruit, and electronics. These items have low amounts of radiation that are perfectly safe for humans to be around. A safe radiation level for the average person is about 300 millirems per year, this is equal to about 500 x-rays.

 

So please, don’t believe the rumors! Radiation is totally safe in moderation and everyday materials will not kill you. MRI’s are void of any ionizing radiation, which is harmful for your body, so don’t be hesitant to get an MRI. If you need an MRI, contact Open MRI of Pueblo, at 719-404-0991.

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Exploring the Steps of Cancer Care

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Cancer happens. It doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, or ethnicity, it doesn’t affect only those with genetic predispositions or lifestyles associated with high cancer risk. It can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time.

We don’t say this to scare you. There are just as many people (significantly more, actually) who will be lucky enough to never have to battle cancer in any form. That doesn’t mean this post isn’t relevant to them. Everyone, regardless of whether they have a high or low likeliness of developing cancer at some point in their lives, should understand the different steps in the cancer care process, and participate regularly in at least one of them.

Stage 1: Screening

This is arguably the most important stage of cancer care. Early detection is key in getting a head start on treatment and increasing the survival rate for almost every single type of cancer out there. Even if you aren’t exhibiting symptoms of cancer you should regularly be screened, particularly once you hit 40 or if you have family history of cancer. The screening stage can involve procedures like mammography, ultrasound, and MRI or PET-CT scans.

Stage 2: Diagnosis

When you’re screened for cancer, things typically go one of two ways. Either they find something or they don’t. Most people exit the cancer care process after the screening stage, but there are still several who go on to deal with diagnosis. If they find something during the screening process, most likely you’ll undergo a biopsy, allowing doctors to remove a sample to test for cancer. They’ll run a pathology test to determine whether or not the sample is cancerous, as well as what stage the cancer is. Many patients believe that diagnosis is the most difficult stage of cancer care.

Stage 3: Treatment

After a patient has received a diagnosis, a doctor will set down and set up a treatment plan with them. There are a variety of treatment options out there, and each treatment plan is unique to the patient’s individual situation. Some common types of treatment include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. There are also other types of treatment like immunotherapy and hyperthermia that are a bit less common.

Stage 4: Recovery

Diagnosis is difficult, and treatment is a beast of its own, but both are followed by a much happier stage: recovery. Depending on the intensity of your treatment, recovery can be a long and arduous process, but it’s one most patients are happy to reach. Cancer recovery can be challenging, but it’s incredibly important. Patients who are recovering should work at their own pace to regain their strength and get their body back to normal.

Cancer happens, and it’s scary. Each stage of the cancer care process can feel stressful or overwhelming, so having a great support team behind you is absolutely essential. It’s important to choose a facility for care that not only provides quality treatment, but can guide you through each step of the cancer care process.

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Open Vs. Closed Vs. Wide Bore

When choosing a location for an MRI find out what type of machine they have.  Is it Open, Closed, or wide bore?
Why find out the type of machine? Well it could be the difference in finding out what’s wrong with you.  The standard MRI machine is a closed bore unit, and looking at it, it looks like a tunnel that doesn’t end. Many times people arrive to have their procedure done and find out they are more claustrophobic than they thought.  Because of this you might tend to move around more which might not give the radiologist an accurate picture.
Another type of machine is considered a “wide bore” unit.  This machine is sometimes called an open unit, but don’t confuse it with the true open experience.  The opening of the “wide bore” machine is more of an oval shape, similar to an egg.  The unit does have a short bore, but still resembles a tube.
We saved the best for last.  The “open” unit, is primarily used to give comfort to those patients who might want to look out a window, need to hold someone’s hand, or are claustrophobic, or bariatric.  The true “open” unit helps calm people as the sides are more than a wingspan away.   The patients we see always tell us, “man, I don’t know why anyone would want to go to one of those tube things, this was so much easier.”
So next time you are being referred for an MRI make sure you know what you are getting into before arriving and finding out that you can’t make it through the procedure.
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Relieving MRI Claustrophobia

The MRI machine…one over-sized tube that chirps, squeaks, buzzes and hums loudly to signal the giant magnet that is circling around the small compartment of the tube where your head is located. Sounds like a blast, right? Wrong. If you’re even remotely claustrophobic, an MRI machine can be a patient’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, we’ve done some research and come up with some ways to help you relieve your claustrophobia before and during your MRI procedure!

1) Consider drug therapy. This is only appropriate for extreme circumstances where a patient believes that their claustrophobia will legitimately keep them from completing an MRI procedure. Drugs should be temporary, used only for the procedure, prescribed by a doctor and also approved by the facility doing the MRI.

2) Think about herbal remedies. There are a lot of natural herbal medicines that help ease the anxiety caused by claustrophobia. Two of the most effective herbs are passionflower and kava. These can be taken as tablets or capsules, or used in teas and tinctures as well.

3) Use various relaxation techniques. If you start to panic, breathe in through your nose for ten seconds and then exhale through your mouth for ten more seconds. Continue the pattern to help slow your heart rate. Try to think about happy or relaxing things while you’re in the MRI machine as well. Our centers also allow you to listen to music during your procedure, which is a great distraction for patients and can help keep them feeling calm and relaxed.

4) Have a friend in the room. If you’re feeling nervous, it always helps to have someone in the room with you. Our technologists are always available to sit with patients during their procedures, to hold their hands, or even just to keep up conversation with them during the procedure.

5) Find an alternative machine. If you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s highly recommended that you have your MRI procedure at a facility that has open MRI machines. Rather than placing your head inside a small tube, open MRI machines provide much more space for patients. You can see the difference in the images below. The first one is a traditional closed MRI machine, the second is an open MRI machine.

At Open MRI of Pueblo, we understand how scary an MRI procedure can be for patients, especially for those who suffer from claustrophobia. It’s because of this that we chose to provide our patients with an open MRI machine rather than a closed MRI machine. Our staff is highly supportive, and will go out of their way to ensure the comfort of each patient as they undergo the procedure. Keep the tips above in mind when you head in for your MRI procedure, and don’t be nervous! We’re here for you.