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Purchasing Insights - Reimbursement reductions drive radiography upgrades

By Julie Johnson
From the November 2017 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

The digital radiographic market continues to be a high-volume, extremely competitive segment of imaging.

With the computed radiography (CR) legislation that took effect beginning in 2017, digital retrofit purchases have dominated the radiography landscape this past year, pushing other new equipment purchases to the back burner. As of late 2017, MD Buyline continues to see a great deal of customer interest by facilities wanting to complete their digital upgrade due to the reimbursement cuts associated with CR technology.

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There are many choices in the market when it comes to retrofitting existing CR equipment. The majority of X-ray vendors offer vendor-neutral panels or vendor-specific retrofits for their current analog technology. According to MD Buyline quoting activity, Konica, Carestream, Canon and Fuji lead in the digital retrofit space. Customers are looking to pool detectors and tend to go with vendors that provide an overall solution for their needs. By retaining existing analog fixed or mobile units and pairing them with a given manufacturer's flat-panel detectors, facilities in the market for new equipment are able to stay within budget while offering better patient outcomes, streamlining workflow and increasing productivity.

When it comes to choice of panel and size, most customers are opting for the standard 14x17 or 17x17 panels. However, there is a good deal of interest in smaller panel sizes for pediatric and orthopedic imaging. Cesium iodide detectors are the panel of choice because of the better image quality and dose reduction they offer compared to Gadox panels. However, we still see some interest in Gadox versions for customers interested in upgrading to digital, but in need of more budget-friendly pricing.

While retrofits have been a booming market segment this past year, MD Buyline has begun to see a resurgence in new system purchases over the past few quarters. Vendors chosen for a new system purchase are often driven by bundling other equipment for substantial discounts, especially when it comes to bundling digital retrofits with new system purchases. With the continued growth of outpatient and stand-alone imaging centers, more budget-friendly systems configured with a single detector and standard options are often the system of choice. Larger facilities tend to purchase more highly configured systems with features such as auto positioning and auto tracking, capable of reducing exam times to allow for a faster throughput. The market for conventional systems still finds a home with smaller physician practices and freestanding centers. However, the majority of these are configured for an easy digital upgrade path.
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