Hospital equipment installs still feeling pandemic impact

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | June 20, 2022
Business Affairs
From the June 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

With the long shadow of COVID subsiding, medical imaging companies face a new problem: unprecedented supply chain and shipping complications. It’s the same pandemic shock facing most sectors of the global economy. But the difference is that hospitals, clinics, and physician practices still have patients who need help. They rely on specialists who install and deinstall imaging equipment to meet their mission.

“We have noticed significant concerns related to inflation, the economy, and evaluating buying decisions overall, Dean Yellen, nationwide imaging services project manager, MXR Imaging, told HCBN. “Spending habits are changing, and we have seen an increase in projects that are being placed on hold for a multitude of reasons.”

MXR is seeing project delays of six to eight months, with international shipping stresses part of the slowdown. Also among the complicating factors are resource-related delays with OEM partners and construction holdups among customers. In such times, Yellen stresses, it’s vital to keep customers informed to ensure project completion is as close to schedule as possible.

The good news for radiology installs and deinstalls is that the pandemic logjam is breaking up.

“At many healthcare facilities, budgets originally slated for new equipment purchases were reduced or diverted to support the resources needed to address COVID during the height of the pandemic,” said Brian Calderbank, global director of strategy and marketing, Carestream Health. "Now we are seeing that many are restarting their capital budgeting processes as the COVID emergency lessens in their regions.”

One silver lining from the pandemic is that it heightened the importance of efficient workflow, according to Calderbank. In addition to that, Carestream has also seen a surge in provider IT departments seeking system security updates that had been delayed during the press to care for patients critically ill with COVID.

Hospitals seek more aftermarket systems
As equipment spending increases, many providers are opting for used instead of new systems. Bob Iravani, president, Chicago Medical Exchange, reports that prices for used equipment are at the highest levels he’s seen. For example, he cited used CT equipment costs that are up as much as 40% (Yellen with MXR Imaging cited the same increase in project costs). And even if providers opt for a new system, Iravani added, some OEMs are quoting delivery of 39 weeks due to supply chain slowdowns.

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