Pressure on radiology intensifies

December 29, 1993

Radiologists feel vulnerable to the growing momentum of managedcare and health-care reform. They fear that their profession istaking on commodity characteristics, with radiologists boughtor sold by health-care business managers as prices fluctuate,said

Radiologists feel vulnerable to the growing momentum of managedcare and health-care reform. They fear that their profession istaking on commodity characteristics, with radiologists boughtor sold by health-care business managers as prices fluctuate,said Dr. Thomas Spackman.

"I'm not sure there is another medical specialty thatis under the pressure radiology faces today and in the future,"said Spackman, U.S. president and CEO of imaging vendor Elscint.

Spackman was hired this month to energize Elscint's effortin the U.S. medical imaging market (SCAN 11/17/93). He is theonly CEO of a major medical imaging vendor who is also a radiologist.

Radiologists continue to be the predominant users of medicalimaging technology and play a key role in purchasing decisions.Increasingly, however, power in imaging equipment acquisitionsis flowing to others, he said.

"There are many people who have veto power (over capitalacquisitions), but often only one person has the power to sayyes. That frequently is the hospital administrator or CFO,"Spackman told SCAN.

The health-care reform process is already under way, he said.Radiologists, both individually and as a profession, will haveto look hard at how to position themselves in the new servicestructure.

For vendors, the shifting acquisition equation means attentionmust be paid to money managers as well as physicians, Spackmansaid. As the prime users and evaluators of imaging technology,however, radiologists will continue to be important to the companies.

In order to grow in the U.S., Elscint must form long-term partnershipswith clinicians and administrators, he said.

"Radiologists and CFOs have to have the sense that Elscintis there and will always be there, not just at the time of thesale," he said.

Elscint has a solid reputation for imaging technology, buthas been weak in following through after the sale, Spackman said.The vendor must work closely with radiologists to gauge theirneeds, provide the level of equipment that meets those needs andthen continue to provide service and other support.

"We are a small enough company that we can have a personalrelationship with most of our customers," he said.

Elscint intends to place its equipment in the hands of moreluminary physicians in the U.S., who will then communicate theadvantages of the vendor's technology, Spackman said.

"We need that visibility," he said. "We needand should be able to get a substantial increase in (U.S.) marketshare. One of the only advantages of having a small market shareis that it doesn't take much to make it bigger."

Elscint's parent company in Haifa, Israel, sees U.S. expansionas vital to the company's development worldwide, despite the factthat growth in this market should remain flat over the near term,he said.