Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Veterinary Medicine Enters the New Millenium

I am proud to report that last week, my practice made a very significant transition from traditional x-ray film to digital x-ray. Instead of burning the x-ray to a film that has to be developed, the image is instead captured digitally and virtually instantly transmitted to a high resolution plasma screen that remains saved on a vast database. This cuts x-ray turnaround time considerably, but being able to adjust x-ray technique from a mouth pad, makes the time savings exponential, eliminating the need for re-takes when x-rays are too light or too dark. While time savings offered by digital x-ray makes my practice run more efficiently, cuts down stress for the patient, and minimizes the waiting boredom for the owner, most importantly, digital x-ray provides a quality of image never before attainable using x-ray film, maximizing our diagnostic capability.

Since only April 9, 2009, I have already picked up on several subtle lesions that I am quite certain would have gone unnoticed on x-ray film. One such case even led to a life saving emergency surgery.

Unfortunately, this kind of technology comes at a considerable cost, approximately $70,000, a staggering budget appropriation in the context of our overall gross sales. Given the importance of this technology for my patients and for my practice, I found that it was imperative that I find a way to somehow incorporate it into my practice, which I was able to do without passing the cost onto already economically challenged clients by raising prices. All I had to do was something our government simply cannot, and banking CEOs simply will not: study the budget carefully to eliminate wasteful and/or unnecessary spending, and suspend all bonuses or raises for myself, respectively. (sorry, had to throw in my dig at wasteful government and greedy banking executives)

I am not the first veterinary practice to have digital x-ray, but with so many that still have not made the change from x-ray film, it still places my practice in a select few that have taken this step toward veterinary care in the new millennium. For the sake of our nation's precious pets, I hope more will follow our lead, realizing that a little pay cut and trimming of financial fat is a small price to pay for the level of medicine this technology allows us to practice.

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