by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief | June 03, 2014
Amidst the Eurozone economic crisis and budget cuts to health care, there is increasing demand in Europe for affordable yet dependable imaging technology in hospitals. That need is being met, in part, by previously owned equipment re-entering the marketplace, according to a new report from the business consulting firm Frost and Sullivan.
Hospitals in the public sector often replace their equipment in favor of the latest technology, long before the retired machinery is obsolete. More and more, those replaced machines are being refurbished by the manufacturer and sold at a discount to hospitals in the private sector, where smaller budgets increase the demand for affordable technology.
In their report, entitled Analysis of the European Refurbished Medical Imaging Equipment Market, Frost & Sullivan determined the total market revenue for 2012 at $417.6 million and expect this trend to continue towards $582.3 million in 2019. Those numbers indicate consistent growth in the refurbished market at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.9 percent over those years.
According to Frost & Sullivan's findings, manufacturers have gained consumer trust by following strict guidelines and providing "same as new" warranties on their refurbished products. In recent years, government regulations have also been implemented to protect purchasers and facilitate a secure transaction. Some of these regulations, however, lack uniformity with regard to impacting reimbursement rates for aging modalities. In some regions, doubts of liability concerning older systems have limited the interest of would-be purchasing hospitals.
Increased access to treatment
Up to now, most of Europe's refurbished machines have been magnetic resonance (MRI) and computer tomography (CT) equipment, but the report indicates a recent hike in demand for refurbished ultrasound equipment as well. Looking forward, Frost & Sullivan anticipates the rising number of breast imaging and nuclear medicine procedures being performed will increase demand for refurbished mammography and positron emission tomography (PET) systems.
Refurbished medical imaging equipment has proven particularly desirable in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), where the private sector is developing and opportunities for medical tourism are on the rise. An increasing demand for hybrid operating rooms (OR) is expected to continue to drive sales of refurbished C-arms and interventional imaging systems in CEE hospitals for years to come.
A tough economy is not the only reason increased acceptance of refurbished systems in public hospitals makes sense. Frost & Sullivan cite an overall increase in the quantity of medical imaging procedures taking place, ultimately resulting in longer patient wait times due to the limited supply of specialized equipment. By relocating the functional equipment retired by one hospital to another hospital that needs it, the overall number of facilities with imaging resources increases, and patients travel shorter distances for treatment.