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You may have noticed the request for MRI’s of areas of concern for us to facilitate your physician match. Now, sometimes in regard to knees and shoulders, High Resolution Ultrasound will suffice, but MRIs are always preferred. However, obtaining MRIs, can sometimes be a tricky bunch of hurdles. It doesn’t always have to be.
I must preface by stating, that across the country, there now exist Cash Pay MRI’s. These can be extremely effective especially if pressed fir time, and if your financial status is amenable to this option as well.These facilities charge a flat rate per area on average between $300-$500. Just Google ‘Cash pay MRI near me’ for your local options.
No matter where you obtain your MRI, when you arrive let the front desk know you would like to leave with the CD of imagery, in hand. The report will most likely not be ready yet as the radiologist will still need to review your images. You may need to wait 15-20 minutes afterward, but I promise, it will be worth it not having to request them later!
The majority of our VIP applicants are having difficulty obtaining their MRI imagery through their VA. We finally reached out to our VA Liaison in DC and asked for any guidance she might have to offer. What we discovered is a game changer.
It’s important to preface with why MRI’s are so important to have when entering, our program and not the easier-to-obtain X-rays.
OrthoBiologic procedures require soft tissue present in order for regeneration to occur. MRI’s view soft tissue, its integrity, and where best to deploy the actual injection. X-Rays do not.
One of the main reasons so many Veterans are left frustrated with imaging, is the majority of administrators (yes, administrators make many of a Veteran’s approvals/denials, most without ever having met the Veteran. When considering a degenerative spine condition, the VA will likely refer you to a spine surgeon or an Orthopedist. These specialties require x-rays first, which within our Applicant population, are averaging 3-4 months to obtain. Then, the Veteran must wait for approval of the MRI, and across the board our applicants are then being denied.
Why is this so difficult? Well, it doesn’t have to be, and we found out why.
The key is hidden in plain sight, inside a book on the back of a dusty shelf where a family of mice have raised their little mouse-footed beasts, is the rule book, stating that to obtain an MRI, a Veteran needs to ask for a referral to Neurology or Pain Management. These mandate MRIs first, not X-rays.
The following explains further how best to go about this process, and takes a bit of self-advocacy.
Many, if not most, VAMCs/CBOCs offer walk-in xrays (only xrays) with results posted within three days to the Veteran’s Blue Button Report on the myhealthevet.com website.
Let’s say you did receive a referral to an Orthopedist and have received your X-rays. I’d suggest an immediate message via MyHealthEVet website to the referring provider (usually PCM) requesting a phone call about your X-Ray results. Always send a message – this way they are obligated to respond in a timely manner and it is a secured messaging system.
When they call you, ask to discuss the results of the Xrays. Then, to obtain your MRI(s), request for a referral to Pain Management in order to avoid opioids, or for an appointment with a neurosurgeon (both require MRIs before you can be seen).
Often, pain management is done by community providers.
You are not obligated to go to the Neurosurgon or Pain Management , but you will have your imagery necessary which then broadens your diagnostic options whether you choose to proceed further with our program placement or not.
If the MRI cannot be done within 30 days, then request community care – demand it, if necessary. Not getting a test completed is considered a “delay of care” issue…push that point.
Also, be aware, that many community providers (“civilian providers”) also have backlogs…so sometimes getting a referral to community care may not be much faster. It’s a health care issue across the board – not always VA-specific.
Additionally, Important to utilize is all VAMCs and CBOCs have patient advocates – so please connect with yours and create a relationship.
A good reminder as well, is that Veterans receive mileage reimbursement for travel to all VA appts – even community care! Fill out their form and turn in at the VAMC business office (and sometimes the front desk at the CBOCs) or patient advocate…within 30 DAYS of appt.
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