Smaller U.S. hospitals to increase imaging equipment budget 32% in 2009

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Small hospitals present new market for imaging equipment. Source: DPR Construction  

U.S. hospitals with fewer than 200 beds are budgeting major increases in their capital spending for diagnostic imaging equipment in 2009, compared to 2008 spending levels, according to a new study by IMV Medical Information Division.

“Capital budgets for diagnostic imaging equipment remained virtually flat between 2007 and 2008 in smaller U.S. hospitals,” said Mary C. Patton, director of market research at IMV. “But, radiology administrators in these hospitals are generally bullish on capital spending plans for 2009. Many hospitals with aging diagnostic imaging equipment acknowledge that they cannot remain competitive if they continue to postpone investment in newer technologies.”

IMV's report, Outlook for Investment in Diagnostic Imaging by U.S. Hospitals, 2008-2009: The Radiology Administrator’s Perspective, provides data about hospital radiology departments’ near-term plans for capital investment in new and replacement imaging modalities, as well as related capital purchases, such as PACS.

The study found that radiology departments in hospitals in 100- to 199-bed size range, which budgeted an average of $1.06 million per site in capital spending for 2008, have budgeted an average of $1.4 million per site in capital spending for 2009, or an increase of more than 32 percent.

Similarly, the report said that radiology departments in hospitals with fewer than 100 beds, which budgeted an average of $540,000 per site in capital spending for 2008, are planning capital investments averaging $790,000 per site in 2009.

Considering all of the facilities represented by the survey sample, MRI equipment stands out as the modality most likely to be purchased in 2009, followed by 16-slice and 64-slice CT scanners, according to the researchers. Other modality acquisitions most likely to be considered priority purchases for 2009 include digital mammography equipment and ultrasound equipment.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Sixty-eight percent of the surveyed radiology administrators consider recent reductions in Medicare reimbursement for imaging procedures as a ‘very major challenge’ or ‘major challenge’ to growing or maintaining imaging services revenues in their hospitals;
  • Recent imaging facility closures have had an impact on the perceived competition for imaging services for 10 percent of the hospital radiology departments;
  • Pre-certification requirements for diagnostic imaging procedures are most likely to have affected candidates for MRI and CT scans. Some hospitals report that two- to three-day delays have become the norm for non-emergency diagnostic CT and MRI procedures; and
  • More than two-thirds of the survey respondents would be willing to purchase OEM-certified refurbished equipment for one or more leading diagnostic imaging modalities.

The report also discusses specific strategies that hospital radiology departments are pursuing to introduce new technologies, to generate new revenue sources, and to improve operational efficiencies.