Better Access, Less Red Tape: Four Reasons to Get Your MRI at South Shore Health

An MRI technologist prepares a patient for a scan
MRI technologist Mark Hanson preps a patient for a scan inside South Shore Hospital's 3T MRI machine.

Getting an MRI doesn't have to be a hassle. 

If you’ve ever had an injury and needed advanced imaging to diagnose the cause of the pain in your knee, hip, shoulder or elsewhere, you may have experienced a drawn-out process before you can have that achy joint scanned.

There are visits to doctors’ offices and possibly a referral to a specialist, exams and X-rays and possibly a prescription for physical therapy, all before you can get the order for an MRI. 

Once your provider has ordered the MRI, you need authorization for the procedure from your health insurance company.  This often delays the process further, but without authorization, you’d be footing the full bill for that knee scan. 

This is where South Shore Health’s preauthorization team comes in, helping speed that final big step before scheduling your MRI scan.  

MRI Manager Rafael Olmedo said his recently expanded team specializes in securing MRI authorizations, working with providers and insurance companies to expedite the process. 

“That’s the preauthorization team’s full focus,” Olmedo said. “It gives South Shore Health the ability for rapid, direct communication for authorizations, and less red tape.”

Busy and understaffed doctor’s offices are happy to have the authorization process off their plate and often send the MRI orders directly to South Shore Health’s preauthorization team, he said.

Based on the insurer, Olmedo said the team has a good idea what the turnaround time will be for an MRI authorization. On average, he said it ranges from two to seven days. 

Once authorization is approved for the MRI, patients can be scheduled and scanned usually within 24 hours, Olmedo said. 

Quick and easy MRI authorizations are just one reason to choose South Shore Health for advanced imaging. Here are three more:

Patient comfort

All of South Shore Health’s MRI machines have been recently refurbished and feature a shorter and wider (70-centimeter) bore size, providing patients more space, a less-confining or claustrophobic experience and fewer interrupted scans. 

The upgraded units feature blanket-like air coils, which are more efficient and less restrictive for patients during the scan.  

An MRI technologist with a new MRI machine at South Shore Hospital
MRI Technologist Mark MacLean with the new 1.5T MRI machine at South Shore Hospital. The new scanner is faster and has a wider bore making it more spacious and comfortable for patients. ​ ​​

The MRI machines are open on both ends and patients can enter the machines feet first on any kind of scan, Olmedo said.  

There is also comfort lighting for ambiance and patients can listen to music during most scans of the extremities, body and spine to help pass the time in the MRI machine.    

State-of-the-art equipment 

There are four magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines across South Shore Health, three 1.5T units and a powerful 3T MRI.  

The “T” stands for Tesla – which is the unit of measurement used to quantify the strength of a magnetic field in an MRI machine. 

In the past two years, upgrades and software updates have been made to all of the 1.5T MRI machines, making them faster, more efficient and more comfortable for patients.

With a magnet that is twice as strong as that of the 1.5T scanners, the 3T MRI is capable of providing highly detailed imaging that is particularly beneficial for conditions involving the brain, spine, prostate and musculoskeletal system.

With top-of-the-line MRI machines equipped with the latest technology, South Shore Health can provide superior imaging services to more patients across our region.

Ample access, easy scheduling

South Shore Health is fully staffed with more than 30 full-time MRI technologists and has four MRI scanners at three different locations; South Shore Hospital (3T and 1.5T), The Center for Orthopedics, Spine, and Sports Medicine (1.5T) at 2 Pond Park in Hingham and another at the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center at South Shore Health (1.5T).  

Expanded hours, including evenings and weekends allows for greater availability of appointments and flexibility for scheduling, giving patients options to choose the time and location that works best for them.

MRI manager Rafael Olmedo stands by the door to the imaging suite
MRI Manager Rafael Olmedo says the preauthorization team at South Shore Health is cutting through the red tape and speeding up the process for scheduling and scanning patients.

The MRI at 2 Pond Park in Hingham is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and has ample parking available, Olmedo noted. 

The Cancer Center schedules MRI appointments Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and South Shore Hospital’s MRIs can scan patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Olmedo said.

“If 3 a.m. is a better time for you, we can schedule your MRI then.”

In fact, South Shore Hospital has the staffing and capacity to schedule and scan even more patients, he said. 

“At the hospital we are looking to increase outpatient procedures by as much as 40%,” Olmedo said. “We don’t have a backlog and once we have authorization, we can get you scanned within 24 hours.” 

Rafael Olmedo is Manager of the MRI Department. Learn more about diagnostic imaging at South Shore Health.