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Discussing the European independent service market for medical imaging equipment

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | February 18, 2020
European News
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Where does Spain stand in comparison to other European countries in terms of imaging technology and resources?
BR: Spain has deeply suffered the financial crisis of the last decade due to the weight that construction had and still has in Spain´s GDP. As a result, investment in imaging technology and related resources has been stopped for many years. Although healthcare spending has grown until 9 percent of GDP (Source: OCDE, Health Data 2018), these expenses have only been in opex, not in capex. Spain is in the median of the OCDE spending in relation to GDP.

Regarding Spain´s obsolescence in medical devices, COCIR is the European Trade Association representing the medical imaging, radiotherapy, health ICT and electromedical industries. COCIR In 2003 drafted a set of prudent “Golden Rules”, on the basis that an appropriate mix in the age profile of installed systems is essential for efficient and productive healthcare systems.

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Unfortunately Spain is at the bottom of the list when compared to all European countries.

HCB News: Are European countries going to adopt the in-house service strategies that have gained popularity in the U.S.?
BR: In-house has some pros as the quick response, and some cons as the higher costs in terms of labor and managing the work force. If independent service companies meet the expectations of a high quality of service in terms of fast response and specific and deep knowledge in all systems that end users may have in their facilities, in-house has not much sense. APR Salud is actually offering this quality of service and flexibility. In addition, regarding systems with ionizing radiation (such as CTs and X-ray systems), in some European countries, as in Spain, any maintenance service professional and the company where he develops his work must have all permissions of the Nuclear Security Council. Obtaining those permissions implies huge administrative work and monitoring and control of the highest quality standards, becoming an entry barrier to internalization.

HCB News: The imaging equipment install base in Europe is getting older. How does that impact your company?
BR: Although we maintain the state of the art in technology systems, we are also used to and feel comfortable maintaining old systems. It is common that OEMs send “out of service/support” or “end of life” letters to the end users when the system has 10-12 years, because they are manufacturers and need to sell. Therefore the end user is forced to change the system if he does not know independent service companies like APR Salud that can maintain the systems much further than the OEMs. We prefer to leave the choice of changing or upgrading the system to our customers, rather than forcing them. In order to do so, we are able to find any kind of spare part of any system all over the world and receive it in our warehouse in a maximum of two days.

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