By John Garrett
There are new players in town. At least they are trying to establish themselves as such. Then, there is the rebranding that is going on as companies merge or buy out other companies. It is a very active time in the world of medical imaging. United Imaging made their debut in the USA during RSNA with PET/CT, CT, MRI and general rad room offerings. Samsung, not new but very young, is offering ultrasound, portable X-ray, general rad rooms and portable CT. Then, there is Canon having purchased Toshiba marketing under the Canon name with some changes to the new designs. These are just a few of the companies out there that are either new or rebranded. We all wait to see what happens with GE Healthcare as they are divested from GE.
There can be a lot of excitement generated about a new company, a new product offering, and a new set of features or options. Users get excited and envision what might be possible with this new equipment or company. Hospitals and imaging centers see improved workflow or better patient outcomes (be they real or imagined) and push to buy the equipment.
Every medical center has to make decisions that make the most sense for the situation they are in. They need to look at the best way to achieve desired patient outcomes. So, it is very possible that the new company or new offering is the right fit. However, it is important to consider all of the aspects of the purchase. There are hidden costs to consider when looking to purchase the new company product.
If you are using a product with a small market share, when people transfer into your company they will require complete training on that equipment. All of them. There is little chance that an operator will have worked with equipment that has a small part of the overall market in a previous location. Service will have to be provided by the manufacturer unless you can get your in-house team trained. This may be easier to do with a company that has a smaller market share, or impossible. Something to be researched and considered. Finally, parts and down time. If there is no secondary market, all parts will have to come through the manufacturer. Depending on the quality control of the company this may decrease or increase down time.
It is important to note that these issues may not be a big issue, and there are ways to mitigate any potential problems in the negotiations prior to the actual purchase. However, as more players get into the diagnostic imaging equipment manufacturing business they are all serious considerations. Moving to a new or newer manufacturer will require more resources for service initially, but it is no different than using the same manufacturer with a new generation of equipment.
New manufacturers bring a world of possibilities and opportunities. It is important to know and consider the full cost of owning the unit and what the realistic expectations of the equipment’s impact upon the center making the purchase will be over the life of the equipment.