Companies fast-track portable x-ray units to AsiaThe SARS crisis in Asia has underscored deficiencies in medical care, particularly in China. Del Global and Siemens are among the companies that have responded, sending portable
Companies fast-track portable x-ray units to Asia
The SARS crisis in Asia has underscored deficiencies in medical care, particularly in China. Del Global and Siemens are among the companies that have responded, sending portable chest x-ray equipment to expedite screening for SARS.
As the virus spread, Del received scores of requests from Asian dealers to provide portable x-ray units. The company has responded to the urgency of the Asian requests by diverting ready-to-ship units and simultaneously accelerating production to fill those orders left hanging. To support increased production, the company asked for-and received-a quicker turnaround on components from suppliers. Del Global, which normally builds 25 portable x-ray units a month, has produced and shipped about 100 units over the last few weeks.
And the company is still in high gear. Del has 20 machines on line and orders for an additional 30, said Walt Schneider, president of the Franklin Park, IL, medical imaging and diagnostic systems manufacturer.
"We directed everything we could into the Chinese marketplace so they could address the situation as quickly as possible," he said. "It's more than making money or shipping x-ray systems."
Siemens Medical Systems mounted a similarly aggressive response to the SARS epidemic. In conjunction with Lufthansa, Siemens donated and delivered 100 Mobilett and Polymobile x-ray systems to hospitals in Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, and other SARS-infected areas, said F. Steven Feinberg, vice president of Siemens Ltd. China and general manager of Siemens Medical Solutions China.
According to Siemens, many hospitals in SARS-infected areas of the world have found that a chest examination with a portable x-ray unit is one of the best ways to image the disease. Chest x-rays are highly diagnostic. As reported by the Prince of Wales Hospital at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, more than 78% of patients diagnosed with SARS have abnormal radiographs.
The beauty of portable equipment like Del Global's HF 110 is that it can be folded up, wheeled from location to location, and plugged into the nearest electrical outlet, generating radiographs with short exposure times on large numbers of patients.
Like other imaging companies, Del Global and Siemens are developing an increasing presence in China, which is considered a growth area. For Del, which specializes in x-ray equipment, China's immediate need relates directly to the firm's core product line.
Multimodality vendor Siemens has even more to gain in the long run. Sales of CT and MR scanners are growing in China. Digital x-ray technology is just beginning to penetrate the market.
By rapidly supplying portable x-ray equipment to screen for SARS, both Del Global and Siemens are generating good will that could help build already strong relationships in China. Del Global, which supplies stationary and portable medical imaging and diagnostic systems through independent distributors, has an Italian-based international dealer organization and two major dealerships in China.
When Chinese healthcare professionals needed help coping with SARS, executives at Siemens and Del Global recognized the business opportunity but it was the humanitarian need that drove them to act decisively, executives said.
"We have the highest respect and admiration for the relentless efforts of the many doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and relief personnel who work around the clock throughout China in the fight against SARS," Feinberg said. "We hope that the medical and communication equipment Siemens donated will help make them more effective at their task."