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Special report: DR rising

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | February 13, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Gone are the days when radiology equipment manufacturers went hog-wild for film-related technologies. Today, it’s a dying breed, swiftly swept aside by alternative digital technologies including computed radiography and direct radiography. But the battle for the limelight continues. Now DR is attempting to rule the market – and it’s succeeding.

Last year, DR systems outsold traditional X-ray systems for non-dental medical use, according to research firm Kalorama Information’s report, “Medical Imaging Markets: X-Ray, Digital X-Ray, CT and Other Radiography Systems,” published in November.

“DR is definitely outselling CR,” says Greg Cefalo, U.S. imaging business unit manager for Agfa HealthCare. “The DR market is probably at least a $500 million industry, while CR is worth $350 million.”

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With the highest growth rate in the market, revenues for DR systems are by far the largest component of the $12 billion (global figure) radiography market. And DR’s growth is predicted to continue at a compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to research firm TechNavio's “Global Digital Radiography Market 2010-2014” report, published in September. Philips Healthcare, GE Healthcare and Siemens Healthcare are the key vendors ruling the roost.

Pushing the masses towards digital is DR’s technological advancement over CR. While CR requires the manual transfer of cassette-based imaging plates to a digitizing scanner for the production of digital images, DR enables automatic production of digital images after X-ray exposure, sans cassettes. DR’s instantaneous ability to retrieve digital images, along with its convenience, general usability and declining cost is quickly attracting more customers.

“The preference of DR to CR is down to the fact it is more efficient and productive; has a higher detective quantum efficiency than CR, which means that DR requires less dose than CR to produce the same image; and improves patient experience, because with DR there is no waiting to evaluate images,” says David Hurlock, global sales manager for Varian Medical Systems – Interay.

Overall, DR systems improve productivity of radiographic exams three times over CR systems, according to a report from 2001, “Digital Imaging Affords Major Efficiency Gains”, authored by Dean DeMaster, radiology manager at Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Mass.

“DR is now the technology of choice compared to five years ago,” says Rob Fabrizio, senior marketing and product development manager of Fujifilm Medical Systems U.S.A. Inc. “Hospitals are focused on DR for their new purchases, while manufacturers are focused on DR for their demand.”

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