by Olga Deshchenko
, DOTmed News Reporter | May 23, 2011
From the May 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
This growing trend makes itself known in the third-party market as well. MedPro’s Rubenstein says handheld systems are the number one product for his company, making up about 65 percent of its business.
In addition to carving a broader customer base, the expansion of the handheld ultrasound segment is also creating a bifurcation in the overall market, says Christopher Cone, president of Unisyn Medical Technologies.
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The handheld segment is driving down the cost of the devices and establishing more specialty applications, while building a new end-user base for lower-end systems, he says.
On the other hand, advancements on “workhorse radiology and cardiology products” are bringing more transducer options and applications to providers, which are creating momentum for the higher-end, more traditional systems, says Cone.
The refurb challenge
But as high-end systems grow in sophistication, they also become more complex. For third party service providers, one of the persisting challenges is efficiently servicing the latest, high-end equipment.
When a new ultrasound platform comes out, ISOs wait approximately two years for it to mature, explains Cone. In about the third year, companies begin to develop service delivery programs. “The reason we do that is we want to wait until the platforms show some stability,” he says.
Oftentimes, new platforms require software patches or have hardware issues, which OEMs upgrade and iron out within the first few years of a product’s life.
Another reason ISOs take their time to develop a servicing plan is because they’re waiting until a source other than the OEM invests in parts for the new platform. “Parts availability is a fundamental challenge of servicing any diagnostic equipment but it’s acute in these newest platforms because it takes time for third parties to make some investments in those systems,” says Cone.
There are also barriers when it comes to software, such as diagnostic keys. It takes some time for ISOs to engineer access to the necessary software, either by working with an OEM or without it, says Cone.
A popular system that currently lacks solid ISO service support is the GE Logiq E9, a radiology product that has been on the market for a few years.
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