New president of Picker Canada sees hope for MRI purchasing

June 21, 1995

Ontario government to grant approvalsOpponents of high-technology medicine have often made hay of thedisparity between the U.S. and Canada in each country's installedbase of MRI scanners. As one frequently made observation attests,there are more

Ontario government to grant approvals

Opponents of high-technology medicine have often made hay of thedisparity between the U.S. and Canada in each country's installedbase of MRI scanners. As one frequently made observation attests,there are more MRI scanners in Los Angeles than in all of Canada.Canada's antipathy toward MRI may be changing, however, accordingto Bruce Ross, the new president of Picker International's Canadiansubsidiary.

In one sign of Canada's changing tune, the province of Ontariohas made a commitment to grant government approval for the purchaseof a significant number of new MRI scanners, according to Ross.The approval, similar to the certificate of need (CON) processin the U.S., would allow local hospitals in the province to goforward with purchasing plans.

The commitment must be taken with a grain of salt, as it wasmade during provincial elections held this month. And even ifprovincial hospitals receive government approval to buy the scanners,they must still come up with the cash to make the purchases, asin the U.S. But the Canadian government's appreciation for MRIhas improved, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the country's physicians,according to Ross.

"The medical community has gotten through to the government,"he said. "They are getting enough data to show that the downstreamresults (of MRI) will save the system money. I don't know if thatwill result in more purchases."

In addition to the government's change of heart, there wasa surge in attendance at this month's joint convention of theCanadian Association of Radiology (CAR) and the Canadian Associationof Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) in Montreal. The conventionorganizers expected 1300 professional registrants but ended upwith 2500, including 500 radiologists, Ross said.

Ross was tapped to head Picker International Canada earlierthis month. He rejoins Picker after a seven-year stint with thecompany in the 1980s, during which he served as general managerof marketing, sales and service for the U.S. for Picker's HealthCare Products division. His most recent position was vice presidentof sales and marketing at Nicolet Biomedical, a neurodiagnosticand monitoring instruments vendor based in Madison, WI.

One of Ross' goals at Picker Canada is to expand to other modalitiesthe division's success in x-ray and radiography/fluoroscopy.

"Our technology is such that we should be very motivatedin MRI, CT and nuclear medicine," Ross said. "Thereis a replacement market for CT, and lots of nuclear medicine equipmentis being bought."