What the heck do I charge for digital radiographs?

What the heck do I charge for digital radiographs?

Figure out the best approach for your practice to meet your veterinary clients' needs and keep your practice financially healthy.
Oct 11, 2016

Photo courtesy of Steve Dunwell, Steve Dunwell PhotographyCalculating the cost of services such as digital radiography presents a challenge for veterinary practices. You have to factor in labor, the cost of all necessary materials and supplies, facility and equipment costs, and administrative overhead. This exercise might seem like a lot of work, but it provides a huge reality check for you and your team on the expense side of the pricing equation. Do your fees truly cover your costs, or are you in the red? Traditional thinking related to setting fees looks like this:

Cost + profit = price

When your costs increase, the easy solution is to raise your prices to maintain a reasonable profit. But this strategy might not be feasible if your community is economically challenged or your fees are the highest for the area. These scenarios might require a different approach. You start with the price the clients will accept and manage your costs to maintain the desired profit margin:

Price – cost = profit

(Also, don't forget that it's essential to talk to your cash-strapped clients—and isn't that really all of us these days?—about alternative payment options, such as pet insurance and third-party payment plans.)

Here’s another strategy. At WTA Veterinary Consulting we have figured out the ratio between some diagnostic imaging fees and the exam fee for Well-Managed Practices. Here they are:

Your exam fee x 3.067 = Your price for digital radiography (two views, 8 x 10)

Your exam fee x 1.306 = Your price for an digital radiograph (additional view, 8 x 10)

Your exam fee x 4.875 = Your price for an abdominal ultrasound

For even more input, check out the median diagnostic imaging fees from Well-Managed Practices in the chart below.

Diagnostic imaging fees from Benchmarks 2015

Service Median fee
Digital radiography: 2 views, 8 x 10 $160
Digital radiography, additional: 1 view, 8 x 10 $60
Digital radiography: 2 views, 10 x 12 $155
Digital radiography, additional: 1 view, 10 x 12 $59
Dental digital radiography: 1 view $32
Dental digital radiography: 2 views $45
Dental digital radiography: 3 views $63
Dental digital radiography: 4 views $80
Dental digital radiography: 5 views $89
Dental digital radiography: 6-8 views $90
Abdominal ultrasound $260
Chest ultrasound $265
Chest and abdominal ultrasound $375
Ultrasound-guided biopsy collection, liver $150
Outside interpretation, radiograph $85
Outside interpretation, ultrasound $102

Source: Benchmarks 2015: A Study of Well-Managed Practices

Denise Tumblin is president and owner of WTA Veterinary Consulting in Columbus, Ohio, and author of the Benchmarks series of Well-Managed Practice studies co-published by WTA and Veterinary Economics. This article is adapted from Benchmarks 2015: A Study of Well-Managed Practices.