The low-cost, non-invasive, highly accurate MRI-driven prostate cancer screening tool
Who we are
FirstScan™ began when a team of operations managers, MRI engineers, surgical oncologists, urologists, radiologists and technologists came together, united by a common goal: to make detecting prostate cancer more reliable, reasonable and accessible — with less pain and patient discomfort.
We wanted to rethink the common approach to prostate cancer detection. To optimize the best of new MRI imaging technologies and expand education, allowing men to make their own informed decisions about important personal issues.
It was through this collaboration that we developed FirstScan — the first low-cost MRI prostate cancer detection and “guidance” offering in the world. Utilizing ScanMed®’s patented flexible prostatic external antenna, this newly emerging technique can more accurately diagnose the probability of prostate cancer through digital imaging, with more accuracy than relying solely on an invasive biopsy.
How it works
If a patient’s PSA level is elevated, he can choose FirstScan for MRI prostate imaging and advice. The MRI prostate scan lasts approximately 20 minutes. Instead of an endorectal probe, it utilizes an external, state-of-the-art wearable (and flexible) prostate imaging antenna and a 3 Tesla MRI system with all of the latest academically proven imaging protocols.
The results are read by a board-certified radiologist with considerable MRI experience and scored (cancer type and stage), taking into consideration other related patient risk factors and clinical concerns, with an outcome of over 80-90% accuracy. The few cases that warrant further validation are guided through the next steps of full clinical evaluation and/or treatment. The patient is informed of and is in control of all his choices going forward.
OUR PLAN: RECOMMENDATIONS OF LEADING RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS
- If no cancer or significant risk factors are detected, the patient is sent home with advice to monitor his PSA every 6-12 months. He is asked to return if it elevates by 25% or more within this time frame.
- If a lesion is detected, the patient should consult with his medical team.
Why it's better
Our primary goal is to identify aggressive and dangerous cancers early, when treatment is most effective — while eliminating painful randomized biopsies, unnecessary therapies and the complications and side effects that come with them. FirstScan is designed to address the difficulties and limitations of standard MRI scanning, while improving your provider’s ability to accurately and reliably detect dangerous cancers.
It’s more accurate, less invasive — and at a reasonable out-of-pocket cost — it’s an easy choice when faced with a potentially difficult path.
Our Executive Team
Randall Jones, PhD, MBA
President & Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Jones, ScanMed’s owner and CEO, is a proven entrepreneur and an accomplished inventor with over 10 patents and dozens of completed designs. The combination of being a highly trained USAF technician, PhD EE and MRI physicist has enabled Jones and ScanMed to become a leader in MRI RF system and MRI coil diagnostics. READ MORE
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much does a FirstScan MRI prostate screening cost?
FirstScan costs each patient $595 out of pocket, which includes the radiologist report that is sent to your primary care physician. At this price, FirstScan costs less than the typical out-of-pocket co-pay for an insurance-covered MRI.
- Why isn’t this screening covered by insurance?
The current Standard of Care mandates that insurance companies don’t need to approve prostate MRI screening unless you’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Recent studies have proven that early detection and treatment is key to preserving the prostate organ. If you were to be approved by your insurance company to have this service and you went to a hospital for an MRI scan, your co-pay alone would be at least $900. FirstScan’s Prostate Screening is more economical, cutting this cost down to $595.
- What if I have an HSA?
Since this is a medical service, you can use dollars in your HSA account. FirstScan will provide a receipt for auditing purposes.
- When do I pay?
You will be billed at the time of service.
- How long will the procedure take?
The screening only takes about 20-30 minutes from start to finish. The full appointment, including the screening and required paperwork, will take around 45 minutes.
- When will my results be available?
The radiologist report from your screening will be sent to your physician within 3-5 business days.
- Will it hurt?
Not at all. Our patented design allows you to wear an MRI coil on the outside of your body, resulting in a comfortable, completely non-invasive experience.
- Where are you located?
We are located in Omaha, Nebraska, just off I-80 at 9840 S 140th Street, Suite 5.
- How do I schedule my appointment?
If you would like an MRI screening with FirstScan, please discuss our diagnostic option with your physician. Much like a pharmacy, you’ll need a physician’s prescription in order to receive our service. Your physician can either fax us the prescription or you can bring it at the time of your appointment. Your physician’s scheduler is also welcome to call in your referral. If you have had a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test recently, please bring your results to your appointment. A recent PSA test result is recommended, but not required. The confirmed prescription for your MRI, however, is required prior to receiving your MRI at FirstScan. To schedule an appointment time and date, you can fill out our online form or give us a call at (402) 934-1999.
- When are you open?
Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m to 5 p.m.
- I still have some questions. Who should I contact?
If you have lingering questions about your PSA levels or prostate cancer itself, you can speak with you primary care physician or read more here. A FirstScan representative can answer any questions you still have about our technology screening process. Just give us a call at (402) 934-1999 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Will insurance pay for an MRI at FirstScan?
FirstScan opened its doors in November of 2015 with the intention of bringing a deeply discounted cash pay price to men who wanted to take advantage of the study prior to us being able to bill insurance carriers. In the meantime, we have been negotiating contracts with the different insurance providers. We cannot accept those carriers coverage until those contracts are completed. That process typically lasts 8-12 months. We have found that our charge of $595 is significantly less than that of the average copay when billing insurance, often times it is 3-4 times less than that of a hospital copay when billing insurance. Comparing the out of pocket expense to the patient, FirstScan will be significantly lower every time. For more information please review the “MRI Average Patient Cost When Billed to Insurance’ document under our “Resources” tab on the FirstScan website.
- Should I have this done at a hospital in the meantime as my insurance will cover it?
Every patient’s coverage is different, so we cannot speak specifically to this point. However, what we can say is that just because your insurance ‘covers’ a hospital MRI it is important to remember a few key things:
- Hospital charges are typically 3-4 times higher than that of an independent facility like FirstScan. In fact, most range from $2,000 – $3,000.
- That cost likely does not include the radiologist interpretation, and you will likely be billed separately for that, and that can range anywhere from $200-$500.
- If you have not met your deductible, you may be responsible for part or all of the total cost, which compared to our $595 is significantly more.
- If you have met your deductible, but not your maximum out of pocket, you will still owe for the exam. Most plans will pay at 80% (with the patient being responsible for the remaining 20% of the hospital charge, which again is 3-4 times higher than that of FirstScan).
- Is your study the same as one that the hospitals are offering?
The short answer is no. In fact, it is very much different. FirstScan offers a 100% non-invasive MRI that takes approximately 20-30 minutes. There are some brief patient preparation guidelines that we do ask of our patients (namely to refrain from eating 4-6 hours before the exam and to take a Gas-X before arriving). The following are details of a typical hospital prostate MRI exam:
- The hospital will image you with what is called an endorectal coil. This is essentially a rectal probe. Some will provide muscle relaxers for their 45-60 minute exam, but you will have to remain in the MRI scanner, with this coil inserted in your rectum for 45-60 minutes.
- Hospitals typically ask that patients undergoing this exam to use 2-3 enemas at different intervals before arriving. This is solely at the patient’s expense.
- Generally speaking, MRI’s differ in three areas: the radiologist, the technologist, and the technology.
- FirstScan’s radiologist, is the only prostate ‘expert’ in the area. He has read hundreds of prostate MRI studies, has had a fellowship with Dr. John Feller, MD, a world thought leader in prostate radiology, and consults with this world expert when the need arises. Since most area hospitals do not perform many prostate MRIs, their radiologists, while all very competent, do not possess the requisite experience to accurately interpret the MRI; hence, at FirstScan, you can rest assured that your MRI interpretation is extremely accurate. When we say you don’t have cancer, it is 97% certain that you don’t!
- Much like FirstScan’s radiologist, FirstScan’s technologist, or MRI operator, has scanned hundreds of prostates. As mentioned above, since hospitals do not see many of these exams, their technologists (as with their radiologists) may lack the experience to provide a quality exam for the radiologist to interpret. Again, this is not due to a lack of skill or competency, but rather due to a lack of exposure and volume. Hospitals simply do not focus on this procedure whereas this is FirstScan’s sole activity.
- FirstScan utilizes a FDA approved, proprietary (patented) coil or antennae that is 100% non-invasive and is at the forefront of MRI coil technology. We liken it to a pair of swim trunks or boxer shorts. The hospitals do not employ this technology. We have created a detailed comparison between a prostate MRI at FirstScan versus one in a typical hospital setting called ‘MRI Cost Breakdown for Physicians and Patients’, which is available via the ‘Resources’ tab at www.firstscanomaha.com.
- I have a rising PSA, why hasn’t my physician recommended FirstScan?
Using MRI as a means to ‘screen’ for prostate cancer is a relatively new concept, and some physicians may simply not be aware of the advancements that have occurred in MRI technology and, thus, not aware of this option. We have had discussions with most of the physician groups in the Omaha, NE and Lincoln, NE area, however, we have not yet reached everyone. We encourage you to print off material that you find on our website and bring that in to discuss with your physician. They are more than welcome to call us as well for more details. We are also more than happy to go visit with them if you, or they, would prefer.
- Since this is a ‘screening’ procedure, can you give me my results?
FirstScan requires written orders from your physician before performing the study as your healthcare is a serious matter and we want to ensure that your healthcare team is actively involved in your care. For that same reason, we will only report the findings of your study to the referring physician. Your physician would then, in turn, discuss the findings with you. This ensures that your questions and concerns are appropriately addressed. We typically provide results to your physician within 48 hours of performing your study. You are free to contact them after that to obtain your results.
- Does your MRI Prostate Screen require a contrast injection?
No. Our study is 100% non-invasive, which includes not needing a dynamic contrast injection, or DCE, and no needles. The hospital study will require the contrast agent however. We have chosen not to include this in our study protocol because of recent studies outlining the decreased efficacy of DCE in highlighting lesions on the prostate gland. Furthermore, due to the unique nature of our non-invasive coil, the images created are of such greater clarity that it renders DCE unnecessary for all but a few unique situations.
- When is the best time to have an MRI of my prostate done?
The US National Library of Medicine suggests that MRI of the prostate be used adjunct to PSA (and/or DRE) screening, and when the PSA increases (also called PSA velocity), and continues to do so, that would be the ideal time to have the scan done PRIOR to a TRUS biopsy. Patients who have had a negative TRUS biopsy are also good candidates for the exam, as we can tell, with a high degree of certainty, whether or not another TRUS biopsy is needed. It is also recommended that patients with a family history of prostate cancer start being screened at age 45, including PSA and MRI.
- I am unsure if I am claustrophobic, and I am nervous about having the exam performed. Will I go into the scanner head first?
No, patients will go into the scanner feet first, lying on their back. Depending on one’s height, the top of one’s head may stick out of the scanner itself. Our technologist is very adept at keeping patients calm and comfortable during the study.