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Purchasing insights: Molecular imaging modalities will grow in the coming years

By Jamie Dildy
From the June 2017 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

Use of molecular imaging modalities like PET/CT, SPECT and SPECT/CT is likely to increase in the next 10 years, driven by new indications for these procedures, new tracers being released and expanded insurance coverage.

When facilities are planning to purchase these molecular imaging modalities, they should look for system features and options that fit their facilities’ needs and pricing limits. They should also look to make sure the system’s software can be easily upgraded as technology changes throughout the years.

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SPECT and SPECT/CT markets continue to evolve with advancements in treatment and diagnosis. Systems should incorporate three key areas: integrated patient data; improved workflow and automation; and the ability to identify the disease in the early stages and devise a treatment plan. In the MD Buyline database, we are seeing facilities purchase a SPECT/CT scanner and using the CT scanner as a backup scanner for overflow procedures. We also note that customers tend to be purchasing multi-systems or multi-modality systems for a lower purchase price based on a bundled system purchase.

The MD Buyline database shows that hospitals tend to be brand loyal, continuing with vendors that provide excellent performance and reliability as well as service and support. Purchasing departments should include the radiologist, department director and technologist(s) when looking to purchase a system. Reimbursement procedures are changing all the time, so facilities should have an “all hands on deck” approach to aid in their purchasing decisions. When making large capital purchasing decisions, facility personnel need to research every aspect of the vendor and system offered and whether the system will be used for cardiology, neurology and/or oncology purposes. Some vendors are now offering digital PET/CT, which has been demonstrated to provide approximately twice the volumetric resolution, sensitivity gain and quantitative accuracy of analog systems.

When considering vendors and PET/CT systems, facilities need to look closely at FDA recalls, reading and understanding each recall. Get a written statement of the status and resolution actions taken by the vendor. Use recalls as leverage in your negotiations. Check out the ratings of the system. Make sure the vendor has the proper contact point for further recalls. Finally, always negotiate uptime guarantees.

Every system purchase should be accompanied by a point of sale service contract. The best time to purchase service is at the time of the capital purchase. Historically, purchasing service when the warranty has expired is a lot more costly. Many vendors offer American College of Radiology (ACR) support packages, education, software upgrades and support. Make sure the service support level and time period covered are in line with the facility’s departmental needs.
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