Mobile firm plans growth from U.K.

November 20, 1991

Several former executives of Mobile Medical Services (MMD) teamedup again earlier this year to create European Health Associates(EHA), a London-based mobile imaging services company. EHA operates one mobile MRI unit in the U.K. and plans to

Several former executives of Mobile Medical Services (MMD) teamedup again earlier this year to create European Health Associates(EHA), a London-based mobile imaging services company.

EHA operates one mobile MRI unit in the U.K. and plans to expand,albeit cautiously, in Europe, said Derek C. Beatty, director ofsales and marketing.

MMD of Voorburg, the Netherlands, had been Europe's largestmobile imaging company, running 18 vans on continental and U.K.roads as of two years ago (SCAN 12/27/89). The firm suffered cashflow problems that resulted in bankruptcy proceedings in late1990, Beatty said. Beatty had been sales and marketing managerfor MMD.

"We want to be very careful this time around," hesaid. "It is important to provide quality service to hospitalsand to bring the correct infrastructure and logistics into operationbefore entering into new modalities. We are enjoying success inthe U.K. market and would like to capitalize upon that in extending(operations) into Europe."

AMI Healthcare Group of the U.K., a major shareholder in EHA,has provided the start-up firm with a stable business as wellas funding, he said.

"We are their (AMI's) mobile business," Beatty said.

EHA serves several AMI hospitals as well as other private andNational Health System institutions. The firm runs a 12.8-meterCalumet Coach van that complies with European road requirementsand regulations (see following story). The van was designed witha rear steering axle to improve hospital access. EHA operatesa mid-field GE MR Max system in the van, he said.

The density of MRI systems in the U.K. remains low relativeto other European markets and the U.S., which improves prospectsfor mobile services. There are about 40 MRI systems installedin the country, while the general consensus is that 120 to 130systems are needed, Beatty said.

The NHS is interested in the concept of mobile imaging services.Many NHS hospitals have budgeted for MRI services but don't havethe funds to support acquisition of a dedicated system, he said.

EHA has been imaging 15 to 20 patients per 14-hour sessionat most of its private hospital sites. In some cases, however,the firm has achieved throughput of 28 patients a day, he said.

"We wish to expand the fleet in the U.K. to provide serviceto more NHS and private hospitals, but also expand into the Europeanmarket. We will be starting up a mobile lithotripsy service inHolland and it is our intention to provide mobile MRI servicethere and, hopefully, in Germany and other European countries,"Beatty said.

Since MRI vans with superconducting magnets must ramp downbefore crossing the English Channel, the firm expects to servicethe continent with separate routes. EHA is studying the feasibilityof mobile cardiac catheterization and bone densitometry services,as well as MRI and lithotripsy, in Europe. There may also be demandfor mobile CT services in the nations of Eastern Europe, he said.