Should I go with film or digital x-ray?

Our team of seasoned industry professionals attend seminars, conferences, and continuing education events. A frequently asked question we receive is whether or not a new clinic should be opened with conventional film x-ray or digital x-ray. This is also a common theme when speaking with doctors; some of which work in an existing clinical setting with others, but also plan to open their own clinic. As one may expect, the primary concern is typically the overall cost. What we also have found that in most cases the price difference between one method of x-ray and another is the deciding factor.

There are several others factors to take into consideration when you’re debating between conventional and digital x-ray. On first glance, digital x-ray may have a higher price tag. However, there are some additional expenses associated with film x-ray that you would not have to worry about with digital. One of these expenses is a darkroom, which requires a certain amount of square footage. So, as you explore locations for your new clinic, you must keep in mind the necessary allocation of physical space for your future darkroom. As you consider the price per square foot and floor plan, you may find that eliminating the darkroom (and the space it would occupy) would be easier altogether.

In this decision-making process, you should also consider the future of your clinic—keeping in mind that film-based x-ray will not be around forever. Most darkrooms are not originally built out to be large enough for anything other than storage. In the future, as you do make the transition to digital x-ray, this could become a useless space that could otherwise better serve your clinic and patients. With a darkroom, another factor to consider is the need for plumbing, as darkrooms mean a film processor, which requires a water source and drainage. As these costs seem to add up, you wonder, “Maybe I should have just started my clinic with digital.” Although the upfront investment seems more expensive, the likely success of your clinic in the not-so-distant future is delicious.

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