Chinese OEM looks outside Asia for MRI, CT customers

May 14, 2003

Value products address low and middle tiersChinese medical equipment manufacturer Neusoft Digital Medical Systems is broadening its sales ambitions. Having gained the trust of Chinese hospital purchasers and government backers as a

Value products address low and middle tiers

Chinese medical equipment manufacturer Neusoft Digital Medical Systems is broadening its sales ambitions. Having gained the trust of Chinese hospital purchasers and government backers as a supplier of reliable imaging hardware and software, the company is now marketing its low-cost scanners away from home.

Neusoft Digital Medical Systems is part of the Chinese software company Neusoft, founded in 1991 and now employer to about 5000 people in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and the U.S. The medical arm of the business, started in 1998, provides jobs for more than 500 Chinese workers, with manufacturing sites, research centers, and a burgeoning sales network located throughout the country's major cities and provinces.

Neusoft has rolled out a comprehensive line of digital imaging technology over the last five years, including CT, MRI, ultrasound, and x-ray systems, and its own HIS and PACS. The company has also promoted its customer-oriented ethos, setting up technical support, aftersales training, and consulting services. It performs well on home turf by offering systems of similar quality to top medical imaging manufacturers but at lower cost, said Queenie Shan, vice director of sales and marketing in Neusoft's international business department.

"Our manufacturing site is located in China, so the costs are lower," she said. "Land, labor, and machinery are all much cheaper here than in Europe or the U.S., so we can sell our systems at a lower price."

This year marked Neusoft's first attendance at the European Congress of Radiology in Vienna, as part of a concerted effort to develop an international customer base. The company has shown products at each of the past three RSNA annual meetings and has now established a U.S. subsidiary to market medical imaging scanners from sites in Boston and Los Angeles. A sales office has also been set up in Vietnam to capture a larger slice of the Asian market.

Neusoft established a reputation in China as a purveyor of low- and midrange systems, including whole-body single-slice CT (CT-C2000), dual-slice spiral CT (CT-C3000), and open MRI (Superopen 0.35T and NAM-PO23A). It now hopes to establish a reputation for quality with international customers, having obtained FDA clearance and CE marking for key CT and MRI products, Shan said.

"We know that the range of quality offered by the big manufacturers is larger than ours," she said. "But our performance is better. It is difficult for us to compete with them for high-end systems, but for middle- and lower-end systems, it is not."

Outside Asia, Neusoft will likely focus on midrange systems, though some opportunities may exist for selling more basic systems in Russia and Eastern Europe, for example, according to Shan. The company is currently developing an eight-slice CT in response to trends toward multidetector technology. Application for a CE mark has also been submitted for a midrange 1.5T MR scanner already on the market in China.