Is POCUS Cost Effective?

Assessing if POCUS is cost-effective.

When it comes to point-of-care ultrasound, or POCUS, a common comparison between various brands is cost. How cost-effective is POCUS for medical facilities, clinicians and patients? How much do these devices actually cost? How much does training to use them cost? And, do they provide cost savings for patients and clinicians? And how easy is it to develop a POCUS workflow that fits seamlessly into existing systems and practices? In this blog, we will help to provide a more complete picture of the cost-effectiveness of point-of-care ultrasound.

How Much Does POCUS Cost?

One of the major benefits of point-of-care ultrasound is that the devices are rather cost-effective. There are two ways to talk about POCUS affordability: costs associated with patients and costs associated with medical facilities. Fortunately, the use of POCUS devices provides savings for both groups.

Point-of-Care Ultrasound Cost for Patients

The use of POCUS leads to significant savings for patients. Here are some facts and figures that illustrate the financial benefits associated with point-of-care ultrasounds:

Studies have shown that the use of POCUS in emergency medicine and other fields provides significant cost savings for patients. One December 2018 study examined POCUS use in the emergency department of a community hospital for three months to provide insights into decision-making and cost savings. The results all but speak for themselves. The use of POCUS saved patients:

  • $1,134.31 of additional testing for privately insured patients
  • $2,826.31 for out-of-network or uninsured patients
  • $181.63 for Medicare and Medicaid Services patients

When integrated into existing emergency and diagnostic settings—especially early on—POCUS reduces the need for additional costly tests, lowering costs for patients across all insurance types. In fact, this same study found this to be true even when the use of POCUS did not alter the treatment decisions.

POCUS Cost for Medical Facilities

Along with the savings patients can realize, POCUS is also cost effective for hospitals and other medical institutions. The cost of POCUS devices varies quite a bit depending upon the brand and the features available. With that said, here is some high-level pricing information to assist teams in making the best purchasing decisions moving forward.

Generally speaking, a handheld point-of-care ultrasound system will cost somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000—with some outliers being priced significantly higher or lower. Other costs associated with these devices include per-procedure costs such as single-use sterile gel packets and probe covers.

At Exo, we’re looking to make the next generation of POCUS devices even more affordable. Once released, we expect our own POCUS device to cost about as much as a laptop—giving medical professionals more access to these innovative tools.

Along with the devices and per-procedure costs, there are also costs associated with training and certifications. POCUS.org, home to the Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Certification Academy™, offers a POCUS Fundamentals Certificate ($125 as of June 2022). Additionally, they offer clinical and specialty courses that range in price from $150 - $625 each. Even with all of these individual costs, POCUS still offers considerable savings compared to ultrasound machines.

Looking at the cost of handheld point-of-care ultrasound vs traditional ultrasound systems, traditional ultrasound machines range from $40,000 - $250,000 for lower-end machinery to $1 million or more for higher-end devices. There’s a clear distinction in affordability here. Of course, there are still a myriad of instances where an order for a traditional ultrasound is necessary. However, hospitals and medical offices may find that subsidizing their ultrasound machines with handheld POCUS devices offers the best of both worlds while maintaining a lower budget.

After all of this, you may be wondering, “Can you bill for a point-of-care ultrasound?” The answer is yes, as long as you meet requirements for documenting the exam and maintaining image files. That’s where Exo Works™ comes in.

How Does POCUS Integrate into Workflow?

While POCUS offers significant savings for patients and medical facilities, concerns about how POCUS integrates into day-to-day work abound. Fortunately, with a POCUS workflow solution like Exo Works, it couldn’t be easier.

Exo Works is an intelligent and intuitive point-of-care ultrasound workflow solution that lets you document exams in seconds and easily manage QA from anywhere. You can do the following:

  1. Perform a scan with any DICOM-enabled POCUS device.
  2. Review and document findings in a matter of seconds.
  3. Automatically save images to EMR and PACS for billing and storage.
  4. Securely distribute and access ultrasound imaging through the cloud.

With an easy-to-use workflow like this, medical professionals not only save money, but they save time that can be better spent on patient care. Ready to learn more? Check out the full tech specs on Exo Works and reach out to set up a demo today.

Read more on POCUS: A Beginner’s Guide to POCUS, What Is POCUS Used For?, What Is POCUS , What Is a POCUS Device?, How to Make the Case for a New POCUS Workflow.

Exo is a health information and devices company modernizing medical imaging starting with making ultrasound simple and affordable for all. Exo just released Exo Works™, an intelligent and intuitive point-of-care ultrasound workflow solution that lets medical practitioners document exams in seconds and easily manage QA from anywhere. Learn more about Exo Works.